Hawaii holds off Northern Iowa 27-24
HONOLULU (AP) Steven Lakalaka rushed for a career-high 124 yards and a touchdown as Hawaii beat Northern Iowa 27-24 Saturday.
The Rainbow Warriors (1-2) rushed for 148 yards against the Panthers (0-2) and also saw their defense and special teams put points on the board.
Defensive lineman Beau Yap opened the scoring by recovering a UNI fumble in the end zone and Tyler Hadden had a field goal in each half.
Lakalaka shouldered the load with standout Joey Iosefa out with a fractured ankle suffered in a loss to Oregon State last week. Lakalaka averaged 3.9 yards on a career-high 32 carries and scored on a 30-yard run late in the third quarter. His previous career-best was a 104-yard performance on 19 carries against Army last year.
Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey threw for 188 yards on 14-of-30 passing, including a 15-yard touchdown to Harold Moleni in the second quarter.
Woolsey was replaced by backup Jeremy Higgins in the third quarter.
Northern Iowa was led by Sawyer Kollmorgen's 265 passing yards on 19-of-40 passing. He threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes - a 9-yarder to Kevin Vereen, Jr. and an 11-yard scoring strike to Darrian Miller, which pulled the Panthers within three points with 1:56 to play.
Michael Schmadeke made a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut the Hawaii lead to 17-10 at intermission.
Julian Gener and Simon Poti led the Rainbow Warriors defensively with nine tackles apiece and Max Buscher recorded a team-high nine tackles for the Panthers.
It was the second straight FBS opponent to open the season for Northern Iowa. The FCS program lost to Iowa on Aug. 30, 31-23.
Hawaii has now won its last nine games against an FCS opponent and 12 of its last 13. Its last loss to an FCS team was against Florida Atlantic in 2004.
The Rainbow Warriors had lost their first two games by a combined nine points against two Pac-12 teams (Washington and Oregon State).
Nothern Iowa has a bye next week before hosting Northern Colorado on Sept. 20. Hawaii will hit the road for the first time this year when it visits Colorado Saturday.
It was the first meeting between Hawaii and Northern Iowa, but the schools share a unique connection. Former Panthers' coach Stan Sheriff was instrumental in the building of the UNI Dome and later served as athletic director at Hawaii, where he oversaw the construction of the Special Events Arena. The indoor arena was later renamed the Stan Sheriff Center. The field at the UNI Dome is also named in his honor.