ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Cole McDonald and Miles Reed led Hawaii’s ground game and an expected passing mismatch failed to materialize as the Rainbow Warriors beat New Mexico 45-31 on Saturday.
Behind quarterback McDonald, Hawaii (5-3, 2-2 Mountain West Conference) entered the game with the country’s third-leading passing attack with 359 yards per game. New Mexico is ranked 130th and last in NCAA FBS statistics, allowing 348 yards per game.
While McDonald certainly was effective through the air, completing 17 passes for 237 yards that included a touchdown, it was the Rainbow Warriors ground game that came up big with 255 yards. McDonald led the way, gaining a career-best 140 yards with two TD runs. Reed added 97 yards rushing and a touchdown.
In his first game of the season, Kumoku Noa had four catches for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Rainbow Warriors.
Ahmari Davis was a bright light for New Mexico (2-6, 0-4), gaining a career-high 200 yards rushing with two scores. Jordan Kress added 100 yards receiving and a TD.
But the New Mexico passing attack didn’t catch fire until the second half, when Tevaka Tuioti threw for 190 of his 293 yards.
The rout began early as the Lobos went three-and-out, followed by a 76-yard McDonald touchdown run.
New Mexico responded with a field goal in its next possession, but Hawaii got touchdowns on its four possessions before halftime to lead 35-3.
The Lobos rallied for 21 straight points late in the fourth quarter after trailing 38-10.
The win puts the Rainbow Warriors in line for a potential bowl game, needing just one more victory to clinch six wins and eligibility.
The Lobos teeter on the brink of a third-consecutive losing season after reaching bowls following the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Hawaii is at home Saturday against Fresno State in a game that will set up the winner for a run at the conference’s West Division championship.
Cellar-dwelling New Mexico plays at Nevada on Saturday.
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