Chevan Cordeiro launched three touchdown passes in the first half, Calvin Turner broke the New Mexico Bowl record with an initial 92-yard return and had another long scoring move to help Hawaii beat Houston 28-14 on Thursday in the New Mexico Bowl.
The game was moved to Frisco from its usual location in Albuquerque because of the restrictions of COVID-19 in New Mexico.
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Hawaii (5-4) gave first year coach Todd Graham his 100th career win. Previously, he trained in Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.
Hawaii had three interceptions – the first two leading to a 14-0 lead – and five sacks.
“Our deal was to get the defender out of his place, try to pressure him and confuse him,” said Graham. “We talked about hitting the ball. We gave him four or five different looks.”
The Rainbow Warriors had a winning record for the third consecutive season, the first time since 2001-04. Houston (3-5) has consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2000-02.
Cordeiro completed 15 of 23 passes for 136 yards and made eight loads for 33 yards.
Houston’s Clayton Tune went 20 from 38 to 216 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Hawaii reached a 21-0 lead in the first half, with Cordeiro throwing 3-yard passes to Dae Dae Hunter, 75-yard passes to Turner and 4-yard passes to Jonah Laulu.
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Houston recovered with two touchdowns in the third quarter, with Tune throwing a 7-yard pass to Nathaniel Dell and a 26-yard pass to Christian Trahan.
After Trahan’s score, Turner returned the 92 yard kickoff to top the score.
“They had just scored a touchdown,” said Turner, “so I was thinking that I needed to make a big move.”
Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said: “I had a stomachache.” We play good football, but it will not happen. I’m glad that 2020 is over. “