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Hawaii 38, Massachusetts 35
The University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warrior football team kicked off the 2017 season in dramatic fashion with a 38-35 come-from-behind win over UMass on Saturday night. For the second straight year, the teams competed in a contest that came down to the wire and for the second straight year UH emerged victorious.
UH overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half and scored the final 10 points of the game to pull off the victory. With the win, Hawai'i snapped a 13-game road losing streak against non-conference opponents dating back to 2010, and picked up their first season-opening road win since 1992.
Metuisela 'Unga's 7-yard catch from Dru Brown with 48 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner. It was a touchdown set up at 52-yard reception by John Ursua, who had one of the greatest season-opening performances in school. The sophomore receiver's clutch catch on UH's final drive capped a 12-reception, 272-yard performance. The 272 yards was the fourth-best single-game receiving total at UH.
Meanwhile, Brown tossed for threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-38 passing. He also rushed for a 29-yard score to record UH's first touchdown of the season.
All-conference linebacker Jahlani Tavai racked up a team-high 13 tackles and two sacks to lead the UH defense. Sophomore Solomon Matautia added 11 tackles and an interception.
UH had to overcome a slew of missed opportunities in the first 30 minutes. UH out-gained UMass by nearly 100 yards in the first half, but went into the locker room tied, 14-14. UH turned the ball over on downs twice in UMass territory and was also thwarted by racking up eight penalties for a total of 83 yards.
UH led 14-7 late in the second quarter, but UMass scored 21 consecutive points, including a pair of touchdowns on each of their first two possessions in the second halfÑto take a 28-14 lead over the Warriors.
UH, however, started to turn it around. The Warriors converted on two fourth downs and committed just one penalty in the second half.
Ryan Tuiasoa's 2-yard touchdown run concluded a 72-yard drive to cut the lead. Minutes later, Tuiasoa recovered a muffed UMass punt return deep in Minutemen territory. UH cashed in two plays later with an 8-yard catch by junior college transfer Marcus-Armstrong Brown to tie the score early in the fourth at 28-all.
UMass re-claimed the lead with a 21-yard touchdown by Marquis Young on a 4th-and-1 on the very next possession. However, UH cut the deficit to 35-31 on a Ryan Meskell field goal with 5:23 left, then after a key defensive stop, got the ball back with just under three minutes for the final 73-yard game-winning drive.