Greg Alexander threw for a career-high 453 yards and three touchdowns and Hawaii won a road game over a team from a BCS conference for the first time in seven tries, 38-20 over mistake-prone Washington State on Saturday night.
Greg Salas caught seven of Alexander’s 26 completions for 195 yards and a touchdown. The much faster Warriors (2-0) started their longest stretch of games off the islands in 45 years by speeding to a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter and gaining 626 yards in all.
And it could have been much worse for Washington State (0-2).
The Cougars were scheduled to welcome Ohio State in their eighth consecutive season of playing a “home” game across the state at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium. But the Buckeyes paid WSU $450,000 to get out of the game and had a showdown Saturday night against Southern California instead.
The Cougars were left humbled by Hawaii, which last week needed 17 unanswered points to squeak by lower-division Central Arkansas.
The teams combined for 11 turnovers – seven by Washington State. The Cougars were led by James Montgomery’s 118 yards rushing on 17 carries.
The Warriors, who also beat WSU 24-10 last November in Honolulu, flew to Las Vegas late Saturday to prepare for next weekend’s game at UNLV. They are in the middle of 36 days between games at Aloha Stadium, the second-longest away stretch in the nation this year.
They can only dream they all go as well as this one.
This game and next weekend’s against Southern Methodist back home in Pullman, Wash., were seen as WSU’s best chances for a win early this season.
Or perhaps all season, the way Saturday went. One week after allowing Stanford 481 yards in a 39-13 loss at home, the Cougars were throttled by Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense. Alexander’s yards passing were the most against Washington State since Arizona State’s Paul Justin threw for 537 yards in 1989.
Salas has 14 catches for 375 yards in two games.
Alexander, starting his second season as the replacement for school record-holding quarterback and former Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan, had 263 yards passing by halftime. Rodney Bradley, a junior-college transfer from Texas whose touchdown last week with 1:22 left beat Central Arkansas, had six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns through two quarters.
Hawaii had averaged 15 points in those six previous road losses to the BCS big boys. It led 35-6 at the break.
Washington State committed five turnovers in the first half, as Alexander played an easy game of pitch-and-catch across the middle of the Cougars’ soft, slower zone defense.
Even Hawaii’s linemen were faster than Washington State’s defensive backs. When Chima Nwachukwu picked up a fumble by Alexander at the Cougars 1 midway through the second quarter – 1 yard from Hawaii going up 42-0 – he briefly appeared free for a 99-yard score down the sideline. Then Warriors right tackle Laupepa Letuli ran him down and pushed him out of bounds at the WSU 31.