The Rainbow Warriors defeated the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie, Wyoming 38-14 in the final regular season game on Saturday to collect the rivalry trophy, the Paniolo Trophy. The game was played at War Memorial Stadium, which boasts the highest elevation of any Division I football stadium at 7,220 feet above sea level. Elevation was not an issue for Hawaiian quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who had one of his best performances of the season and had one of the highlights of the year, a 50-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass just before halftime .
Cordeiro completed 19 of 31 passes for 323 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 86 yards and a rushing touchdown in the final game of the season and is now the first player in Hawaii history to have 6,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a game. career.
Cordeiro significantly outplayed Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams, who struggled against the Hawaiian defense, completing 15 of 24 passes for 161 passing yards and a touchdown.
The ‘Bows were firing on all cylinders to start the game, running down the field on their first possession with a mix of passing plays and running plays. They were able to score first after Cordeiro ran it into himself from 8 yards.
The Cowboys were held scoreless on their first possession after a big effort by the Warriors defensive unit brought in fourth on the Hawaii 36-yard line. Wyoming kicker John Hoyland missed a 53-yard field goal attempt and the roll on the downs provided the Bows with great field position. The Warriors would capitalize on Wyoming’s missed field goal by staging another scoring campaign.
Cordeiro was able to earn big chunks of yardage on the drive with a 20-yard run and a 21-yard completion to Jonah Panoke. Later on the practice, a pass interference call in the end zone against the Cowboys gave the ‘Bows another round of downs with the ball at the 2-yard line. That’s when Calvin Turner Jr. lined up at tailback and hit him in the end zone to give Hawaii a 14-0 lead.
The start of the second quarter saw Hawaiʻi return to the end zone after Cordeiro connected with tight end Steven Fiso on a 19-yard touchdown pass. Three outs and outs from both teams then led to a Matthew Shipley punt that pinned the Cowboys on their own 8-yard line. With Wyoming deep in their own turf, the Warriors’ solid defensive play almost resulted in a safety after a tackle from Eugene Ford on the 1-yard line, but Wyoming running back Titus Swen wisely stretched the ball at the above the plane as it descended, and the Cowboys were eventually forced out of their own end zone.
The Bows’ offense, which had been rolling, began to slow on their next drive, but they still came away with points after Shipley scored a 25-yard field goal. With 5 minutes left in the half, Swen managed to cap an 11 play and 75 yard run for the Cowboys with a 4 yard rushing touchdown.
The 24-7 scoreline didn’t last long, however, with the ‘Bows making a huge play before halftime. With the ball at the 50-yard line and four seconds to play, Hawaiʻi had one last chance to score before halftime. Cordeiro threw a Hail Mary pass to the end zone which receiver Jared Smart managed to catch while surrounded by Cowboys defenders.
Wait what!?!?!? 🤯 pic.twitter.com/jDSgO9VCGZ
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) November 27, 2021
Midway through the quarter, Hawaiʻi was inside Wyoming’s 20-yard line when Cordeiro was hit as he released the ball, causing it to wobble awkwardly in the air. Wyoming defensive lineman Victor Jones completed the pass that was the game’s only turnover. The Cowboys capitalized on the extra possession and Williams completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Neyor.
With the score 31-14 in the fourth quarter, Cordeiro found Fiso for a 32-yard touchdown pass to seal the win and end the game. The play was well laid out as Fiso ran a shallow drag lane across the pitch and grabbed the ball on the touchline with no Cowboy defenders near him to make a play. The 38-14 score would hold until at the final whistle and the ‘Bows claimed the Paniolo trophy.
With the win over Wyoming, the ‘Bows were able to end a 6-game losing streak at Laramie’s War Memorial Stadium that dated back to 1991. Although the Rainbow Warriors ended the season with a win, their final record of 6- 7 does not meet the NCAA FBS criteria for bowl eligibility, which states that only teams with a winning percentage of .500 can participate. Unless Hawai’i is selected to bowl in a replacement for another team, Bows football won’t be back until next season.