Facing 4th-and-8 with a minute to play, Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald dropped back to pass. He fired a pass into the end-zone, and at the 54-second mark, No. 54 stepped up for the Army Black Knights.
Junior linebacker Cole Christiansen batted the pass away, forcing a turnover on downs and sealing a 28-21 win for Army against the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii on Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium in West Point.
“That’s a good team that’s beaten a lot of people pretty badly,” Army head coach Jeff Monken told a CBS Sports sideline reporter after the game. “Our guys made some plays when it counted. We had some stuff that didn’t look so pretty, but it was good enough to win.”
Army (2-1) was paced on offense by the smash and dash duo of Darnell Woolfolk and Kelvin Hopkins Jr. Woolfolk toted the rock 19 times for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Hopkins rushed 20 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 6-of-10 passes for 162 yards.
The Black Knights didn’t fumble or throw any interceptions against the Rainbow Warriors.
“It was just thinking about protecting the ball,” Hopkins told CBS Sports. “That’s something that we preach.”
The victory for Army marked its ninth straight at home in West Point. The loss was the first of the season for Hawaii (3-1), which had previously beaten Colorado State, Navy and Rice. The 21 points the Rainbow Warriors scored against the Black Knights was their lowest scoring output of the season.
For Army senior Calen Holt, the win was a special one as he played a key role in the Black Knight’s victory against the team he watched growing up. The running back is a native of Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
Holt had seven rushes for 24 yards and then one big catch for 63 yards. Hopkins’ pass to Holt came in the first quarter on a 3rd-and-8 play, and set up Army’s first score of the game, a one-yard run by Hopkins.
“I was actually just supposed to go out for a route, to get to the first down, and we had some great blocks on the outside,” Holt told CBS Sports. “(Kjetil Cline) opened that thing up for me and helped me get down to the goal line. He had really great blocking on that play and it was a great pass from Kelvin.”
Hawaii’s offense was led by McDonald’s 321 passing yards. On defense, Jahlani Tavai had a career-high 15 tackles for the Rainbow Warriors.
According to the website FBS Schedules, Army and Hawaii have three more scheduled meetings with each other through 2024. The first is next season, when the Black Knights are set to travel to the island in the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 30, 2019.
Now winners of back-to-back games, a much stronger opponent awaits the Black Knights. On Sept. 22, they’ll travel to Norman, Oklahoma to face the No. 5 Sooners.