FRESNO, Calif. >> You always remember the first one. And for veteran football coach Todd Graham, that memory will be very fond after the University of Hawaii clinched a rare road victory over rival Fresno State at empty Bulldog Stadium one afternoon in central California.
The final score was 34-19 in the Mountain West Conference meeting to go 1-0 on the season. But for Graham, it will mean much more than that. For the man who once walked on the sidelines of Arizona State and Tulsa, it's a validation of his coaching style and the innovative ways in which he paired the things he does well as a coach with what works best for his new Rainbow Warriors team.
>> LIVE BLOG: University of Hawaii wins season opener against Fresno State
The offense flourished under sophomore Chevan Cordeiro in his first real start for his city team and fifth overall: all wins. For the previous four, everyone thought Cole McDonald was the real starter. Cordeiro only tried to fill his shoes every now and then to help McDonald get back on track.
But during this afternoon, McDonald was not holding his helmet, waiting to put it on and return at any moment. Earlier this past spring, when the COVID-19 virus first responded here to the list, Graham handed over the keys to his offense to the former Saint Louis School standout and seven months later made his new coach proud.
Rushing for two touchdowns in the first half and then watching as Jacksonville's transfer Calvin Turner ran for two more from the wild formation, Cordeiro did a bit of everything. He was efficient on passing, completing 20 of 30 for 229 yards. He had no interceptions or touchdowns, but he rushed for 116 yards on 13 carries, including two runs of 3 and 20 yards in the first half to give UH a 17-13 lead. Matt Shipley landed one of his two field goals in the first half when Hawaii finally pulled away in the final two quarters.
Turner complemented Cordeiro perfectly, carrying the ball eight times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Miles Reed added another 109 on the ground on 21 carries. He didn't score, but he was part of a 323-yard rushing team in total, dating back to the days of Paul Johnson.
New receiver Rico Bussey had eight receptions for 86 yards. Like Reed, he helped move the chains to set up the four running scores for quarterbacks.
For more information on Hawaii soccer, visit the Warrior Beat blog.