(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warrior football team got off to a fast start and then held off a game Rice squad for a 43-29 win Saturday night at Aloha Stadium. With the win UH moved to 3-0 on the season, the team's first such start since the 2007 season.
Quarterback Cole McDonald threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns as the Warriors scored 40+ points for the third straight game, a first since 2010. The sophomore has not thrown an interception in 111 pass attempts this season and his 13 touchdowns are the most by UH quarterback through the first three games of a season.
Running back Fred Holly III rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns, including a 46-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Slot receiver John Ursua had a team-high nine receptions for 133 yards and a score while fellow slot Cedric Byrd added two scores.
The play of the game may have come by wideout JoJo Ward, who took a short pass from UH's own endzone and juked two defenders for a 63-yard catch and run. The Warriors were holding just a six-point lead at that point and started the drive from their own 1. Two plays later, McDonald found Byrd on a 26-yard strike for a 36-22 lead.
Rice would not go away as quarterback Shawn Stankavage directed the Owls to their second fourth quarter touchdown on a 19-yard score as Aaron Cephus out-jumped two UH defenders in the endzone. The Warriors recovered the ensuing onside kick and Holly's run put the game away.
Linebacker Solomon Matautia had 14 tackles to lead the UH defense which came up with some of the game's biggest plays. Penei Pavihi forced a fumble that was recovered by Zeno Choi in the third quarter with the Warriors holding on to a 21-13 lead. UH also made a big fourth down goal line stop on the first play of the fourth quarter. Zach Wilson added a late interception.
Rice cut the UH lead to 28-22 with a fourth quarter safety and 31-yard touchdown pass play from Stankavage to Austin Trammel on its ensuing possession.
The Warriors next head to the East Coast for a contest at Army on Saturday, Sept. 15. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. ET (6:00 a.m. HT).