HONOLULU — It wasn’t ever going to be easy for the 25th-ranked Huskies, who entered their season opener at Hawaii needing to break in a new quarterback, a new running back, a new-look offensive line — and a new coach.

It wasn’t supposed to be this hard, though.

Finally, the Huskies got some semblance of offensive momentum going late in the fourth quarter — enough, anyway, for first-time starting quarterback Jeff Lindquist to take a knee twice for an easy ending to a stunningly difficult game. The Huskies beat the Rainbow Warriors 17-16 late Saturday at Aloha Stadium, but the victory offered up more questions than answers.

“I’m going to work really hard to be a glass-half-full guy …” Chris Petersen said after his UW coaching debut.

Washington’s quarterback situation remains unsettled after Lindquist’s uneven performance. Making his first start since his senior season at Mercer Island High three years ago, Lindquist showed promise early by completing 7 of 11 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown in the first half. He looked confident and poised — never more so than on his perfectly thrown 91-yard touchdown pass to John Ross — and, perhaps, even ready to take over the job full time.

“I had a blast out there,” Lindquist said. “As you guys can probably tell, the second half was a little rough for me, but our defense really stepped up and helped me out. I’m happy we got the win, but we’ve got a lot of things to clean up.”

Indeed, the story could not have been more different in the second half, when Lindquist was just 3 of 15 for 28 yards. The Huskies, 17-point betting favorites, were shut out in the second half and managed just 336 total yards and averaged just 2.8 yards per play in the second half.

That, perhaps, will open the door for suspended sophomore Cyler Miles, left home in Seattle, to take over as the starting quarterback in UW’s home opener against Eastern Washington.

Petersen wasn’t prepared to go that far in the moments after the game Saturday. He did acknowledge he was perplexed at the offense’s ineffectiveness against a Hawaii program that finished 1-11 last year.

“We couldn’t throw it at all in the second half,” Petersen said. “So we’ll analyze that. Everyone always wants to put it on the quarterback, and it’s not always going to be him.”

Hawaii led 10-0 less than 12 minutes into the game. After UW took a 17-10 lead into halftime, the Rainbow Warriors closed to 17-16 after Tyler Hadden’s second field goal of the second half, this one from 27 yards with 12:42 left in the game.

“I just felt like our whole team played too tight,” Petersen said. “We got off to a bad start … and it kind of snowballed. We played not to lose.”

Washington’s defense buckled down after that, with junior cornerback Marcus Peters stopping Hawaii’s 245-pound senior running back, Joey Iosefa, for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-long pass. Hawaii had to punt to UW with 2:40 left.

Even with Hawaii holding three timeouts, the Huskies were able to run out the clock in their most effective drive of the second half. Redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman carried the ball six consecutive times, diving for a 9-yard gain and a first down at the Hawaii 34-yard line in the final minute to seal it for the Huskies.

“We needed that kind of intensity earlier on,” Petersen said.

Down 10-0, momentum seemed to shift into UW’s favor when Ross, the speedy sophomore receiver, got the ball late in the first quarter.

Ross scored the Huskies’ first touchdown on a 20-yard reverse late in the first quarter.

After Hawaii drove to the UW 9-yard line, Peters sniffed out a trick-play receiver pass, charging hard at Hawaii’s Marcus Kemp, whose pass attempt toward the end zone fell meekly at the 3.

On the next play, Lindquist found Ross with the perfect pass for 91 yards to give the Huskies a 14-10 lead at the 11:42 mark of the second quarter. It was the second-longest pass play in UW history, trailing only Jake Locker’s 98-yard completion to Marcel Reece against Arizona in 2007.

“It was beautiful,” Petersen said. “… We just need to be more consistent. Probably a lot more consistent.”

Cameron Van Winkle converted on his first UW field-goal attempt, from 36 yards, to give the Huskies a 17-10 lead at halftime.

Huskies schedule
All home games at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Date Opponent Time, TV
Aug. 30 at Hawaii W,17-16
Sept. 6 Eastern Wash. Noon, Pac-12
Sept. 13 Illinois 1 p.m., Ch. 13
Sept. 20 Georgia State TBA
Sept. 27 Stanford TBA
Oct. 11 at Cal TBA
Oct. 18 at Oregon TBA
Oct. 25 Ariz. St. TBA
Nov. 1 at Colo. TBA
Nov. 8 UCLA TBA
Nov. 15 at Ariz. TBA
Nov. 22 Oregon St. TBA
Nov. 29 at WSU TBA
Note: All times subject to change. Pac-12 championship game is Dec. 5 at the 49ers stadium.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com