You always remember your first.
And for veteran head football coach Todd Graham, that memory will be a fond one after the University of Hawaii secured a rare road win over rival Fresno State, 34-19 at empty Bulldog Stadium in Graham’s debut on an early Saturday evening in central California.
“When I left them in the (locker room) they were dancing and hooting and hollering,” Graham said as he talked to the media.
The offense (552 yards) thrived under the direction of sophomore Chevan Cordeiro in his first real start for his hometown team and fifth overall — all victories. The Saint Louis (Oahu) alum rushed for two first-half touchdowns and then watched as Jacksonville transfer Calvin Turner ran for two more out of the wildcat formation.
Turner’s 2-yard touchdown run stretched Hawaii’s lead to 24-13, and his 4-yard TD capped the scoring with about 5 minutes to play.
Cordeiro did a little bit of everything and had 345 yards of totals offense. He was efficient passing, completing 20 of 30 for 229 yards. He had no interceptions or touchdowns, but he did rush for 116 yards on 13 carries, including two scoring runs of 3 and 20 yards in the first half to give UH a 17-13 advantage. Matt Shipley hit one of his two field goals in the opening half as Hawaii eventually pulled away over the final two quarters.
Hawaii entered having lost eight of the last nine games against the Bulldogs, but Graham became the first coach at Hawaii to win a debut since Bob Wagner in 1987.
“These guys were relentless in their effort and passion,” Graham said. “There’s no question we were the more physical team.”
And the Bulldogs (0-1) were no doubt the more mistake-prone team in Kalen DeBoer’s debut as coach.
The Bulldogs turned the football over four times, committed seven penalties, struggled to get Hawaii off the field — it was 11 of 16 on third downs. They misfired often in the red zone, settling for 22- and 25-yard field goals and turning it over once on downs.
They also struggled to stop the run and with a lead in the second half the Rainbow Warriors ran the football a lot — 53 times, the most it has had in a game since it had 54 in a 28-26 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in 2015.
Fresno State’s Jake Haener was 17-of-31 for 289 yards passing with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Turner complemented Cordeiro perfectly, carrying the ball eight times for 60 yards and two scores. Running back Miles Reed added another 109 on the ground on 21 bruising carries. He didn’t score, but he was part of a team total of 323 yards rushing.
New wideout Rico Bussey had eight catches for 86 yards. Like Reed, he helped move the chains to set up the four rushing scores for the quarterbacks. Sophomore LB Darius Muasau led UH with 11 tackles, tying a career high, and Euguene Ford recorded his first multi-interception game with two.
UH will remain on the mainland to take on Wyoming on Friday for a 3:45 p.m. kickoff on FS1.
“We actually have a rock, and each week we talk about let’s focus on the next rock,” Graham said.
Hawaii 7 10 7 10 — 34
Fresno St. 7 6 3 3 — 19
FRE—Rivers 7 run (Silva kick), 11:34.
HAW—Cordeiro 20 run (Shipley kick), 4:00.
HAW—FG Shipley 34, 7:12.
FRE—Rodriguez 18 pass from Haener (kick failed), 1:50.
HAW—Cordeiro 3 run (Shipley kick), :27.
HAW—Turner 2 run (Shipley kick), 6:18.
FRE—FG Silva 22, 3:41.
HAW—FG Shipley 24, 12:08.
FRE—FG Silva 25, 10:13.
HAW—Turner 4 run (Shipley kick), 4:52.
First downs 27 22
Rushes-yards 53-323 37-120
Passing 229 289
Comp-Att-Int 20-30-0 17-31-3
Return Yards 92 51
Punts-Avg. 2-49.5 2-31.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-44 7-50
Time of Possession 32:56 27:04
RUSHING—Hawaii, Cordeiro 13-116, Reed 21-109, Turner 8-60, Hunter 8-43, (Team) 2-(minus 2), Smart 1-(minus 3). Fresno St., Rivers 18-79, Haener 13-37, Mims 2-15, Wheatfall 1-(minus 5), (Team) 3-(minus 6).
PASSING—Hawaii, Cordeiro 20-30-0-229. Fresno St., Haener 17-31-3-289.
RECEIVING—Hawaii, Bussey 8-86, Smart 7-89, Mardner 2-26, Turner 2-23, Reed 1-5. Fresno St., Wheatfall 3-73, Brooks 3-46, Rodriguez 3-24, Cropper 2-21, Mims 2-8, Coleman 1-51, Glaspie 1-32, Kelly 1-26, Rivers 1-8.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Hawaii, Shipley 49.