By KALANI TAKASE
HONOLULU — The Hawaii football team wouldn’t mind rolling over some momentum into next season.
Saturday night, the Warriors got a kick-start from Tyler Hadden, who made a career-high three field goals, to help Hawaii to a 23-7 win over South Alabama.
It was the first time the Warriors (3-9) won back-to-back games since October of last year, when it beat New Mexico State at home and won at Idaho.
“Our (special) teams did well,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said. “We missed some scoring opportunities. We need touchdowns instead of field goals. The effort was there, and it was nice to see the seniors go out this way.”
The Warriors (3-9) compiled a season-high 410 yards of offense. Sterling Jackson ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and Sean Schroeder connected with Chris Gant on a 26-yard scoring strike in the third quarter.
South Alabama’s 166 yards of total offense were the fewest allowed by Hawaii since it gave up 127 against Lamar on Sept. 15. The Jaguars had just 18 rushing yards, averaged just 2.6 yards per play and allowed six sacks by Hawaii.
“For where we are with our program, we can’t make mistakes like that and beat a team like Hawaii,” South Alabama coach Joey Jones said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Hadden’s first field goal, a 41-yarder, gave the Warriors a 10-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter. He converted from 42 yards with 5:54 left in the second quarter to cap an 11-play drive and extend the lead to 13-0. Hadden added a 40-yarder before halftime to make the score 16-0.
The Warriors rushed for 229 yards, led by Joey Iosefa’s 97 yards. Will Gregory ran for 71 yards, and Jackson added 68 yards on the ground. Schroeder threw for 131 yards with two interceptions on 10 of 21 passing.
Art Laurel made seven tackles, including five tackles for losses and two sacks, and Mike Edwards and Ne’Quan Phillips each intercepted a pass to lead Hawaii’s defense.
Edwards intercepted Ross Metheny’s pass in the end zone to halt the Jaguars’ first drive, and Hawaii converted the turnover into Sterling Jackson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 9:58 left in the first quarter. The scoring play was set up by a pass from Iosefa to Billy Ray Stutzmann and Iosefa’s 18-yard run up the middle on the next play.
Schroeder’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Gant with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter capped a six-play, 60-yard drive and extended the Hawaii lead to 23-0.
C.J. Bennett’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Wes Saxton in the fourth quarter was the lone score for South Alabama (2-11).
B.J. Scott recorded a game-high 12 tackles and intercepted a pass, and Maleki Harris recovered a pair of fumbles for the Jaguars.
It was the first meeting between the schools.
The Jaguars closed the season on a six-game losing streak. South Alabama will be a full-fledged FBS member in 2013 after completing the two-year transition from the FCS.
“Do we have to get better? Certainly. I think we are close,” Jones said. “We certainly aren’t there yet, but what I think they’ve learned is that we are close … We just have to recruit more guys and get more depth.”
Hawaii completed its first season under Chow with a 1-7 mark in its debut season in the Mountain West Conference.
“We have a tremendous amount of work to do,” Chow said. “Recruiting, getting stronger, making sure we finish strong in the classroom. There are a lot of things we have to do, and there are a lot of things we have to fix.”
The Warriors open the 2013 season against USC. The teams met in the season-opener this year on Sept. 1, with the Trojans rolling to a 49-10 win.
South Alabama 0 0 0 7— 7
Hawaii 10 6 7 0—23
Haw—S.Jackson 1 run (Hadden kick), 10:03.
Haw—FG Hadden 41, 4:46.
Haw—FG Hadden 42, 5:54.
Haw—FG Hadden 40, 1:44.
Haw—Gant 26 pass from Schroeder (Hadden kick), 7:14.
—Saxton 3 pass from C.Bennett (Chapuseaux kick), 6:22.
First downs 17 20
Rushes-yards 34-18 47-229
Passing 148 181
Comp-Att-Int 14-31-2 11-23-2
Return Yards 9 36
Punts-Avg. 7-38.0 2-51.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 7-40 6-80
Time of Possession 27:39 32:21
RUSHING—South Alabama, Glover 9-34, Valentin 9-20, Houston 3-10,
C.Bennett 3-(minus 3), Metheny 10-(minus 43). Hawaii, Iosefa 14-97,
Gregory 15-71, S.Jackson 13-68, Edwards 1-9, Team 2-(minus 3),
Schroeder 2-(minus 13).
PASSING—South Alabama, Metheny 11-24-2-111, C.Bennett 3-7-0-37.
Hawaii, Schroeder 10-21-2-131, Iosefa 1-2-0-50.
RECEIVING—South Alabama, Loper 4-32, Besteda 3-42, Saxton 3-27,
Glover 2-12, Lavender 1-25, J.Jones 1-10. Hawaii, Stutzmann 5-88,
Harding 3-59, Gant 1-26, Iosefa 1-5, Hall 1-3.