Vandal turnovers help Warriors win sixth in row
HONOLULU – Bryant Moniz threw for three touchdowns, ran for another score and streaking Hawaii won its sixth straight and became bowl eligible by defeating Idaho 45-10 on Saturday night.
Following the game, the Warriors (7-2, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) accepted an invitation to the hometown Hawaii Bowl and set their sights on next week’s showdown at No. 2 Boise State that could determine the WAC champion.
Moniz, who leads the nation in passing and total offense, became the fifth quarterback in school history to break 3,000 yards passing in a season. He was 27 of 38 for 326 yards with one interception. He also rushed seven times for 43 yards, including a 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter before being replaced by backups.
Greg Salas caught 11 passes for 168 yards for the Warriors, who have outscored opponents 273-93 in the winning streak. Eight of Salas’ receptions came in the second half.
With its top-ranked pass offense humming along, Hawaii’s aggressive defense took control and broke the game open by forcing three straight turnovers, including two interceptions, that led to 21 points in the first half.
Richard Torres’ 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown put Hawaii up 24-3. The Vandals’ two previous drives ended with Corey Paredes and Mana Silva picking off Idaho’s Nathan Enderle.
Paredes’ interception led to a 4-yard TD pass from Moniz to Kealoha Pilares on fourth down.
Hawaii never looked back after taking the lead, 10-3, on Moniz’s 10-yard TD strike to Royce Pollard following Silva’s interception.
Alex Green rushed 10 times for 74 yards. His 1-yard TD run gave Hawaii a 31-3 lead just before the half, capping a five-play, 80-yard drive that took just 51 seconds.
The Vandals (4-4, 1-2) couldn’t get anything going and were unable to slow down Hawaii. They were without standout linebacker and Maui native Jojo Dickson, who suffered a broken ankle last week.
Enderle looked sharp early, but unraveled with the interceptions. He was 23 of 41 for 207 yards.
Backup Brian Reader threw a late touchdown, an 18-yarder to Taylor Elmo for Idaho’s lone touchdown. Elmo had five catches for 49 yards.
Hawaii, which has won eight straight in WAC play, will be heading to its seventh bowl in nine years after missing the postseason last year.
But its attention will be on next week’s game at Boise State, which will be the final WAC matchup between the schools as the Broncos are leaving for the Mountain West Conference next year. Hawaii and Boise State are the only WAC schools without a conference loss this season.