The Navy Midshipmen started off their 2018 campaign with a long road trip to Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s home state of Hawaii and the homecoming did not go as Navy had hoped.
Navy’s defense was unable to contain Hawaii’s run and shoot offense, as the Rainbow Warriors put points on the board on all but two of their possessions.
Hawaii also added a special teams touchdown when they blocked an Owen White punt early in the second quarter. Hawaii punted only once all night, and converted all three of their fourth down attempts.
The normally reliable Navy offense took some time to get in sync and was shut out until halfway through the second quarter. Navy finally got on the board when Zach Abey was under center at the goal line, and pounded in Navy’s first score of the contest.
The Warriors quickly answered with a Cole McDonald touchdown pass to John Ursua who proved to be a mismatch for the Navy defensive backs all night. Ursua finished the evening with 10 receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
The Midshipmen responded equally as fast when Malcolm Perry ripped off a prolific 75-yard touchdown run just 15 seconds later. Navy’s Defense looked like it may have found a way to slow Hawaii’s offense when they held the Warriors to a field goal in the final seconds of the second quarter making the halftime score 38-14 Hawaii.
Navy’s first possession of the third quarter was par for the course. After making some halftime adjustments, the Mids capped off a textbook 12-play, 7-minute drive with another Zach Abey TD.
Just seconds later the Navy defense came up huge with a strip-sack by Nizaire Cromartie and fumble recovery by Josh Webb inside the Hawaii ten-yard line. Navy’s offense responded with a score on a reverse to Abey who could have moonwalked into the end zone, as Hawaii’s defense was in pursuit on the other side of the field. Any doubt as to whether or not Abey, last year’s starting QB for most of the season and now a converted WR would find a role on the offense this year were erased throughout the evening as Mr. Efficiency finished with 4 TDs on just 5 carries.
Just when the Mids seemed to be rolling, however, Malcolm Perry and the Navy offensive line inexplicably stopped in the middle of a critical third down play on the next Navy drive. To the casual observer it appeared as though they stopped because they thought they heard an official’s whistle blowing the play dead. This miscue essentially resulted in a sack and a Navy punt. The bizarre series of events shifted the momentum back in Hawaii’s favor. The Warriors were able to get another 7 points on the board after an impressive one-handed snag by Cedric Byrd to put Hawaii up by 17 again in the early minutes of the fourth quarter.
Navy was not about to throw in the towel, as just two minutes later, the QB duo of Perry and Abey led the offense 75 yards down the field on another scoring drive, culminating in a Perry touchdown pass to senior slotback Tre Walker who reeled in his first career reception in impressive fashion, maintaining possession of the ball through a particularly tough hit.
But the Warriors were not interested in letting Navy get back into the contest. One minute later, Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald hit JoJo Ward on a go route for a 75 yard bomb to once again make it a three score game. The Midshipmen were never able to get back in striking distance for the remainder of the contest.
The high-powered run-and-shoot offense, and the one-two punch of McDonald and Ursua, ultimately proved too much.
It won’t get any easier for the Midshipmen as they have to travel back across the country to Annapolis and prepare for their first American Athletic Conference game against preseason West Division favorite Memphis. Memphis is coming off a quick tune-up this weekend as they easy defeated Mercer 66-14.
Passing: Hawaii - McDonald 30/41, 428 yards, 6 TDs; Navy - Perry 1/3, 19 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Hawaii – Holly III 17 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD; Navy - Perry 17 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD; Abey 5 Carries, 17 Yard, 4 TDs
Receiving: Hawaii- Ursua 10 rec, 167 yards, 2 TDs; Hawaii - Jackson 3 rec, 38 yards
Navy will play Memphis in Annapolis on 9/8 at 3:30 PM EDT on CBSSN.
Hawaii will play Rice at home on 9/8 at 12:00 AM EDT.