FRESNO – The Fresno State football team defeated Hawai'i 31-21 Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, fueled by a tenacious defense that held its opponent under 300 yards total offense for the fourth time this season. The Bulldog offense, led by four touchdown passes from Marcus McMaryion, scored 31 straight points after the Rainbow Warriors took a 7-0 advantage after the first quarter.
It was the first time since the 'Dogs traveled to Washington on Sept. 16 that they were held out of the endzone in the opening frame, but a 21 point second quarter gave the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead at the intermission. All this in a first half that also saw a 41 minute lightning delay that made the teams return to their respective locker rooms.
Fresno State (7-3, 5-1 MW) scored 10 points in the third quarter to grab the game's momentum, but Hawai'i (3-7, 1-6 MW) would not go without a fight as they scored 14 in the final frame.
The Bulldogs' offense posted 401 total yards, 226 via the pass game and 175 on the ground.
Marcus McMaryion was 19-of-36 for 226 yards (four touchdowns and two interceptions), with his top target being Da'Mari Scott, who had a team-high seven receptions (for 82 yards). KeeSean Johnson posted two touchdowns on six catches and a team-best 91 yards. The run game was split evenly between Jordan Mims' 12 carries, Ronnie Rivers' 11 carries and Josh Hokit's 10 carries. Mims led the group with 55 yards.
Tobenna Okeke wreaked havoc on the defensive side of the ball, posting three sacks and forcing two fumbles. James Bailey led the team with nine tackles while Jeffrey Allison and George Helmuth posted eight apiece.
How it Happened
Trailing 7-0, and with just 28 yards on its first three possessions, Fresno State's offense began to start rolling in the second quarter as its defense put the clamps on the Rainbow Warriors' offense. McMaryion, who opened the game 3-of-10, started to find his receivers. After missing his first of the second quarter, the junior connected on three consecutive throws, finding KeeSean Johnson in the back of the endzone as the wideout got a toe down before being knocked out of bounds.
Holding UH to 14 yards over its next two possessions, the 'Dogs took the lead 14-7 with 2:08 remaining on the clock. The Bulldogs put together a five-play, 62-yard drive in just over two minutes as McMaryion capped off the possession with 25-yard strike across the middle to Jared Rice.
Forcing its second straight three-and-out, Fresno State used just over a minute to move the ball 58 yards as McMaryion found David Tangipa from three-yards out for his first career touchdown reception to close the half with 19 second remaining.
Jimmy Camacho added to the Bulldogs' lead on Fresno State's opening possession of the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal. On UH's ensuing possession, Tobenna Okeke forced a fumble on Dru Brown which Robert Stanley pounced on. Six plays later, McMaryion found Johnson again as the junior darted his away into the endzone for an 18-yard catch-and-run to push the Bulldogs lead to 31-7.
The Rainbow Warriors scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth, the second score coming by way of a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown by Solomon Matautia to bring the Rainbow Warriors within 10, 31-21. It was McMaryion's first interception in 149 attempts.
Hawai'i, making one final push, were halted by Tank Kelly who sealed the game with his first career interception in the back of the endzone with 2:14 left in the game.