McDonald’s 3 TD passes help Hawaii beat Army 52-31
McDonald, who missed a few practices earlier in the week due to flu-like symptoms, entered the game late in the second quarter after an injury to starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and finished 19-of-29 passing without an interception.
McDonald threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason-Matthew Sharsh that gave Hawaii its first lead at 24-17 with 2:40 left in the first half. He also connected on second-half scoring strikes of 7 and 20 yards to JoJo Ward and Jared Smart, respectively.
Smart hauled in eight receptions for 123 yards and Cedric Byrd II notched eight grabs for 122 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass from Cordeiro in the second quarter.
Cordeiro threw for 109 yards on 7-of-12 passing. He also found Sharsh for a 26-yard score that tied it at 10-apiece late in the first quarter.
Miles Reed carried 10 times for 92 yards and scored on a 1-yard run to cap Hawaii’s opening possession of the second half.
The Rainbow Warriors finished with 359 yards passing the air and 492 total yards.
“Army wasn’t to be taken lightly,” Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said. “They’re a tough scheme, tough players and it got kind of tight there for a while and I’m glad our guys responded. The defense came up with a few stops and I liked the way we put the ball in the end zone.”
Army starting quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. With backup Jabari Laws on the mend, third-stringer Christian Anderson filled in and finished with a game-high 114 rushing yards on 12 carries.
However, Anderson exited the game with an apparent injury in the closing minutes and freshman Jemel Jones finished out the game for the Black Knights, who finished with 538 total yards.
“(Anderson) did a good job after Kelvin got hurt,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “I was proud of his effort and I thought he made some plays. Unfortunately he got hurt as well and we played the freshman (Jones) and he made some good plays for us, but overall it wasn’t enough; it wasn’t enough by our team.”
Sandon McCoy scored on runs of 3 and 7 yards. Connor Slomka and Malik Hancock added one rushing TD each in the loss.
“We made some big plays, unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on all of them, so they just outplayed us and Nick’s doing a great job and they played a great game,” said Monken, who began his coaching career as a Hawaii graduate assistant in 1989.
Hawaii led 24-17 at halftime.
The Rainbow Warriors, who are now 14-0 in games where they have scored at least 40 points under Rolovich, improved to 4-1 all-time against Army, including 3-0 in Honolulu.
Army: After an academy-record 11 wins last season, the Black Knights saw their bowl hopes dashed with the loss. They had appeared in a bowl game in each of the past three seasons.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors four-game win streak is the longest in Rolovich’s four seasons as head coach at his alma mater. It is their first nine-win season since 2010, when they finished 10-4.
The Black Knights out-gained the Rainbow Warriors in total yards but were hindered by two costly interceptions that the hosts were able to cash in on.
The first turnover came with Army leading 17-10 with about eight minutes left in the second quarter. Five plays after its defense forced a Hawaii punt, Hopkins was pressured as he dropped back on third-and-14 and his pass was picked off by linebacker Solomon Matautia, who returned it to the Army 25-yard line. On the very next play, Cordeiro hit Byrd for the touchdown and Ryan Meskell knocked through the extra point to tie it at 17 with 8:08 remaining until halftime.
Hawaii’s other takeaway proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Black Knights. Cornerback Rojesterman Farris II jumped a Jones’ pass near the sideline before taking it back for a 100-yard interception return for touchdown to close out the scoring with 1:34 left to play.
Army: Has a bye next week before its annual rivalry game against No. 24 Navy on Dec. 14 in Philadelphia.
Hawaii: Will be making its first appearance in the Mountain West Conference championship game when it visits No. 20 Boise State on Dec. 7.