MW Championship: Hawai'i vs Boise State

Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (9-4) vs Boise State Broncos (11-1)

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The 2019 Mountain West Conference Championship Game will be a played on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at Albertson’s Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

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HAWAI’I RAINBOW WARRIORS | MOUNTAIN WEST WESTERN DIVISION

Coach: Nick Rolovich

Hawai’i Players to watch:

*Junior QB Cole McDonanld (6-4/205)

McDonald has shined in Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense. In two seasons (’18-’19), McDonald has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns.

Yet, inconsistent play prompted HC Nick Rolovich to start redshirt freshman Chevan Cordeiro vs Army last week. When Cordeiro injured his ankle just before halftime, McDonald entered a game tied at 17.

McDonald went on to complete 19 of 29 passes for 250 yards and three touchdown passes, leading Rainbow Warriors to victory. However, the question remains, who will start at quarterback vs Boise State?

**Sophomore RB Miles Reed (5-8/185)

The Corona, California, native provides a nice blend of power and speed. He leads the team with 712 yards in 142 attempts (5.01 ave) with 6 rushing touchdowns. McDonald is the second leading rusher for Hawaii.

Earlier this year when these two teams met – Hawai’i losing 59-37 in Boise – redshirt sophomore running back pronounced as his team left the field, “Right back here! Right back here!…” Reed repeated the manta all the way to a sullen locker room. In that game, Boise keep Reed -1 yard on three carries.

Reed was right, he is going back to play Boise State for the Mountain West Championship. This time will his actions do the talking on the field?

Senior WR Cedric Byrd (5-9/170)

Cedrick Byrd II, a senior from Los Angeles, California, is leading Hawaii in receptions with 83 catches for 927 yards and 9 touchdowns. 

In his rookie season, he finished second on the team in receiving yards (970), receptions (79), and touchdowns (9). Byrd II had the most-ever receiving yards in his debut with 181 yards against Colorado State. He found the end zone in seven games with two multiple-touchdown games.

Senior WR JoJo Ward (5-/175)

Ward, a senior wide out from Waco, Texas, is a close second behind Byrd with 53 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those numbers are very close to last year’s production, when Ward tied for second on the team with nine receiving touchdowns and was third in receiving yards (865). He led the team in yards per catch (17.0) and accrued 15 receptions of 20+ yards.

*Junior CB Cortez Davis (5-11/178)

A JUCO transfer, Davis has been a standout for Hawaii’s secondary this season, he has 50 total tackles, 11 pass break-ups, and one interception.

“He’s a competitor,” HC Rolovich said of Davis. “He’s been a real nice addition to the team. Not only just the defense, just the team and to Hawaii because of who he is as a person.”

Senior SS Ikem Okeke (6-0/200)

According to Okeke, his full name means “My Strength is in my God” in Nigerian.

In 2018, Okeke tied for second on the team with 87 tackles, while leading the team in solo tackles at 60. This year, the hard-hitting safety has 31 tackles, three interceptions, and eleven pass break-ups. In his career, the senior from Las Vegas, Nevada, has racked up 132 tackles, 92 being solo tackles.

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BOISE STATE BRONCOS | MOUNT WEST EASTERN DIVISION

Coach: Bryan Harsin

Boise State Players to watch

Senior DE Curtis Weaver (6-3/264)

The two-time first team All-Mountain West performer looks to be on his way to being named an All-American in 2019. Weaver, a redshirt junior from Longbeach, California, has been included on updated candidate lists for two end-of-season awards, being named a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, and to the final watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award.

Weaver has established himself as one of the top pass rushers in the country in 2019, currently ranking in the FBS top 10 in sacks (fifth, 13.5) and tackles-for-loss (tied for tenth, 18.0). He also has 47 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble on the season.

***Freshman RB George Holani (6-0/195)

Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill told the media Tuesday, “Running the football here and being dominant up front is what we’re all about.” While, true freshman running back George Holani calls Boise State “Running Back University.” Holani wants to become the next in line of formed Boise State star running backs, like Jay Ajayi and Doug Martin, and Alexander Mattison. Holani rushed for 912 yards during the regular season. His 166 receiving yards, put him comfortably over the 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season.  

“He is very elusive,” Hill said of Holani, “and he can get tiny in holes and slip things. He’s got that trust and that confidence to be able to hit the small holes. A lot of backs will feel that contact and go down. He doesn’t. He keeps the legs going and he’s got good balance through contact, and I think that is a big part of what makes him special.”

Senior WR John Hightower (6-3/175)

Hightower is known as the speed guy. His 19.1 yards per catch, attest to his ability to stretch the field. He has 859 receiving yards with seven touchdowns. The junior college transfer has been used on kick returns, in the wildcat, and on end around sweeps. He has 1,539 all-purpose yard this year.

*Junior NB Kekaula Kaniho (5-10/185)

Kaniho is second on the team in total tackles (57). He is very quick when shooting in off the receiver, he has 10 tackles-for-loss. In coverage, Kaniho has six passes defended and one interception. Kaniho has also caused two fumbles and recovered one.

*Junior LT Ezra Cleveland (6-6/211)

Cleveland is follow in the footsteps for former Broncos like Charles Leno and Ryan Clady. There’s little doubt, barring injury, that Cleveland would become the next Boise State tackle selected in the NFL draft. The only question is will he come out early or return to Boise for his senior season?

***Freshman QB Hank Bachmeier (6-1/200)

Who will start at quarterback for the Broncos?

Bachmeier started the first six games of the season before missing the Broncos’ loss at BYU thanks to a hit he took on a scramble the week before against Hawaii. He returned to start at San Jose State and briefly left the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury before returning to finish the fourth-quarter comeback. He hasn’t played since.

Bachmeir’s availability is unknown for the Mountain West championship game against Hawaii on Dec. 7.

Senior Jaylon Henderson has started the past three games and led the team to 129 points.

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Albertsons Stadium – Blue Field Turf
Dec. 7 | Boise, Idaho

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