HONOLULU -- — Ashton Daniels passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns and Stanford opened its season with a 37-24 victory over Hawaii on Friday night.
The Cardinal were making their debut under new coach Troy Taylor, who spent the last four seasons at Sacramento State.
Daniels, a sophomore, made his first career start. He completed 25 of 36 passes and was not intercepted.
Benjamin Yurosek was Daniels’ favorite target. The senior tight end hauled in nine passes for a career-high 138 yards. Yurosek’s 32-yard TD catch with 12:24 left in the second quarter gave Stanford the lead for good.
“I learned a ton about our guys and we talked about that all week, that this was not going to be perfect,” Taylor said. “This was gonna be a tough game and there were gonna be times when we had to bounce back and they reacted. Very proud of our guys. Coaching changes are difficult. It’s a great feeling to get a win and winning on the road is not easy to do. Just real proud of our guys.”
Stanford finished with 407 total yards and got field goals of 25, 25 and 46 yards from Josh Karty, who has converted his last 21 field goals dating to last year.
Brayden Schager threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns on 30-of-53 passing for Hawaii (0-2).
“This was a very difficult team to game plan for with a new coaching staff and it being their first game,” Rainbow Warriors coach Tim Chang said of the Cardinal, which tallied 23 first downs, including six via penalties.
“We gotta get them off the field. We didn’t get them off the field when we needed to and drives got extended in different places for different reasons,” Chang said.
Stanford got on the scoreboard with E.J. Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. The 12-play, 72-yard drive included a pair of third-down conversions, both of them coming on completions by Daniels.
Hawaii capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with Schager’s 7-yard TD pass to Pofele Ashlock to tie it early in the second quarter. Schager completed 6 of 7 passes for 64 yards on the drive.
The Cardinal jumped back ahead five plays later. Daniel hit Yurosek with a 32-yard scoring strike after the duo connected on passes of 22 and 20 yards to move the chains earlier in the possession.
Stanford stretched its lead to 21-7 with 4:25 remaining in the first half. Bryce Farrell scored from 2 yards out on a jet sweep to culminate an 11-play, 66-yard drive that included three third-down conversions.
Hawaii got a 32-yard field goal from Matthew Shipley as time expired in the first half to pull within 21-10.
“Being our first game, we knew that there was going to be tons of things we need to improve on, but we’re going to enjoy this. To come on the road and win against these guys is huge,” Taylor said.
Logan Taylor led Hawaii defensively with nine tackles, including two for losses. Ashlock finished with eight catches for 114 yards, hauling in a 16-yard TD pass.
Stanford was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Its new tempo offense ran 70 plays and averaged 5.8 yards per snap.
Hawaii was coming off of a 35-28 loss at Vanderbilt just six days prior. Its last win over a Power 5 opponent came in 2019 against Oregon State.
Stanford got eight tackles for loss and six sacks from its defense, which limited Hawaii to minus-5 rushing yards and 350 total yards. Linebacker David Bailey led the way for the Cardinal with four of his six tackles behind the line of scrimmage; He also registered two sacks and a quarterback hurry.
Hawaii saw two defensive starters disqualified over the course of the game, both for targeting. Safety Meki Pei was penalized with 5:59 left in the second quarter, while linebacker Isaiah Tufaga was flagged at the 3:04 mark of the third quarter.
Stanford: The Cardinal kick off their final season in the Pac-12 Conference at USC on Saturday. Earlier Friday, it was announced by the ACC that Stanford would be among a trio of additions to the conference in August of next year.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors will host FCS-member Albany on Saturday before facing a second opponent from the Pac-12 on Sept. 16, when they travel to play Oregon.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll