Honolulu • Using the same offensive blueprint that helped them knock off UNLV two weeks ago in freshman quarterback Joe Critchlow’s first start, the BYU Cougars rolled past Hawaii 30-20 on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium to conclude disappointing seasons for both teams.
BYU rushed for 285 yards and Critchlow threw for 166 yards and a touchdown as the Cougars won for the 13th time in Oahu and finished the season with a 4-9 record.
“I am glad we got the win. I am glad we put it on our offensive line,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake.
The Cougars thoroughly dominated the Rainbow Warriors, holding the home team to 28 rushing yards on 15 carries, but Hawaii stayed in it by capitalizing on a pair of big BYU mistakes.
Riley Burt, playing for an injured Squally Canada, rushed 11 yards for his first touchdown of the season to give BYU a 30-13 lead and put the game away. Hawaii scored with 1:48 remaining to cut the deficit to 30-20, but an onside kick failed and BYU ran out the clock.
“We would have had a chance at winning more games if we had done that every game,” Sitake said.
But like every BYU win in one of its worst seasons in 50 years, this didn’t come easily.
The Cougars were leading 20-7 after forcing a three-and-out, but Michael Shelton fumbled a punt the last play of the fourth quarter and Hawaii recovered at the BYU 19.
Former Alta High star Ammon Barker caught a 15-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal five plays later, and UH was back in it that quickly.
“Defensively, we played a really solid game,” Sitake said.
Hawaii had 286 yards, and 80 of those came on its final possession.
Filling in for an erratic Rhett Almond, who missed a PAT and a chip-shot field goal in the first half, Andrew Mikkelsen booted a 35-yard field goal to give BYU a 23-13 lead with 6:21 remaining and the Cougars cruised from there.
“It will be nice to build off this,” Sitake said.
Canada rushed 17 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but left the game with an undisclosed injury, and Austin Kafentzis and Burt had to pick up the slack. Kafentzis finished with 98 yards on 18 carries and Burt had 75 yards on 13 carries, and the clinching touchdown.
“The game plan was to come down here and run it,” Kafentzis said. “We have a great offensive line and we used them. … It wasn’t just me. They opened up holes for everyone.”
BYU dominated the first half, but had just a 13-7 lead at the break to show for it. The Cougars gained 234 yards in the first 30 minutes on 44 plays, including 133 on the ground.
The Cougars took the opening kickoff and drove 85 yards on five plays for a touchdown, a 40-yard jaunt by Canada.
Hawaii got on the board midway through the first quarter when Trayvon Henderson blindsided Critchlow and Solomon Matautia returned the fumble 42 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors ran just 24 plays in the first half, for 112 yards.
The Cougars answered adversity well in the first half, driving 80 yards on 16 plays for a TD after Hawaii’s defensive TD.
“It feels amazing to go out with a win,” said BYU senior Fred Warner. “I am the sorest loser on this team, so I am happy it ended with a win.”