Cole McDonald shakes off illness to lead Rainbow Warriors

He was sick. He was tired.

But the Hawaii coaches conceded there was no way quarterback Cole McDonald would miss Saturday’s football game against Army.

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“I practiced one day,” said McDonald, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms. “I was watching film (from practices) at home, watching Chevan (Cordeiro) practice, seeing what he was doing. His reads, what throws he’s making. Just getting better, even though I couldn’t be on the field (for practices).”

McDonald said he maintained his strength through frequent hydration. “I kept drinking water,” he said. “Thanksgiving saved me a little bit. I ate some good food. That was the saving grace.”

McDonald also proved to be a savior of sorts when he replaced Cordeiro late in the second quarter. Cordeiro appeared to tweak his right ankle at the end of a 12-yard scramble for a first down.

On his second play, McDonald fired a 4-yard scoring pass to Jason-Matthew Sharsh to break a 17-all tie with 2:40 left in the first half. The Warriors did not relinquish the lead. McDonald finished 19 of 29 for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

“I knew I was going to be ready to go,” McDonald said. “I was waiting for my number to be called. Chevan played a great game. It was unfortunate he had to go out like that. Whether it’s me or Chevan out there, we’re going to get the win.”

McDonald’s production (3,401 yards, 29 touchdown passes), leadership and teamwork were recognized at the Rainbow Warriors’ annual awards banquet on Sunday night. McDonald received the Alec Waterhouse award as the Warriors’ most valuable player.

Center Taaga Tuulima was named the top offensive player, cornerback Rojesterman Farris II was picked as MVP for the defense, and freshman linebacker Darius Muasau was honored as the top specialist.

It was Farris’ 100-yard interception return — the longest in the program’s history — that sealed the outcome. “I was taking it out as soon as I caught it,” said Farris, who raced untouched along the right sideline. “I was ready to go. Knowing where I was on the field and what coverage we were in, I was like, ‘There should be nobody here, nobody should be able to catch me.’ “

Of the return, Farris said: “Wind blowing in your face. I was gassed. I’m trying to get over (to the sideline) to get some water. My teammates weren’t letting me over. It was a moment I’m going to remember forever.”

Full Awards List

• Alex Waterhouse Team MVP: Cole McDonald, quarterback.

• Ben Yee Most Inspirational Player: Jeremiah Pritchard, linebacker.

• Coach June Jones Offensive MVP: Taaga Tuulima, center.

• Coach Bob Wagner Defensive MVP: Rojesterman Farris II, cornerback.

• Coach Dick Tomey Special Teams MVP: Darius Muasau, linebacker.

• Coach Tom Kaulukukui Offensive Captains: Jason-Matthew Sharsh, slotback; Dayton Furuta, running back.

• Coach Otto Klum Defensive Captains: Azia Se’ei, nose tackle; Kaimana Padello, rush end.

• Jenny Matsuda Scholar-Athlete: Hekili Keli’iliki, running back.

• Coach Larry Price Most Unselfish Warrior: Kaimana Padello.

• Coach Dave Holmes Most Improved Player: Gene Pryor, right tackle.

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• Coach Jimmy Asato Offensive Scout: Jaden Allen, receiver.

• Coach Hank Vasconcellos Defensive Scout: Alema Kapoi.

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