Hawaii 54, Houston 48, 3 OT

Friday, December 26th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HONOLULU (AP) _ Benched and booed in the final two regular-season games, Timmy Chang found redemption in the Hawaii Bowl.

Chang came off the bench and threw for 475 yards and five touchdowns to lead Hawaii to a wild 54-48 triple-overtime victory over Houston in a Hawaii Bowl that ended with a nasty brawl Thursday night.

Two of Chang's scores came in OT as he completed 26 of 42 passes and was selected the game's MVP. The junior also moved into third place on the NCAA career passing list with 12,814 yards.

But it was Michael Brewster's 8-yard touchdown run in the third overtime that gave the Warriors (9-5) the victory.

Shortly after Hawaii stopped Houston on fourth down in the third OT, the Warriors poured onto the field and several scuffles broke out.

Players were swinging helmets, throwing punches and kicks. No major injuries were reported.

``You don't want a game to end like that, but emotions are so high like that when people lose, they're going to want to fight,'' said Hawaii's Kelvin Millhouse, who intercepted two passes. ``They were talking with us, messing with us the whole game. I don't think they liked us. I don't think we liked them very much either.''

Coaches and police broke up the brawl after several minutes, and Houston was escorted to its locker room.

``The referees let it get out of control during the game by not taking control of some of the taunting and some of the things that were going on,'' Hawaii coach June Jones said. ``I told them in the middle of the third quarter, `If you don't get control of this game we've got a problem.'''

Houston (7-6) took advantage of a clock management mistake by Hawaii to tie it at 34 with 22 seconds left in regulation.

Fans were filing out of Aloha Stadium late in the fourth, but the Warriors failed to run out the clock.

Houston used its last timeout with 1:07 left, but the Warriors passed on third down from the Cougars 12 instead of running the ball and the clock.

Chang's pass fell incomplete and Nolan Miranda missed a 29-yard field goal, giving the Cougars one last shot.

Vincent Marshall caught a short pass in stride from Kevin Kolb and burst up the middle, racing 81 yards for the touchdown that sent the game into overtime.

``I probably should have gone for two right at the end, because we had momentum and we were an underdog and I made a coaching mistake in my opinion,'' first-year Houston coach Art Briles said. ``I should have tried to finish it right there, get on the plane and go home happy.''

Kolb, the Conference USA freshman of the year, was 19-of-34 for 332 yards and two TDs. He threw two interceptions in the second half.

In the first overtime, Chang completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Britton Komine, and Houston tied it on Anthony Evans' 6-yard run.

Houston went up 48-41 in the second overtime on a 4-yard run by Jackie Battle, but Hawaii answered with an 18-yard pass from Chang to Jason Rivers.

The Cougars nearly got the victory when they partially blocked Hawaii's extra point, but the ball still went through.

It was the fifth straight bowl loss for the Cougars. Houston, making its first bowl appearance since 1996, hasn't won in the postseason since defeating Navy in the 1980 Garden State Bowl.

``It was a good effort all night, just came up short,'' Briles said.

The game featured 1,158 yards of offense.

Battle led Houston's ground game with 124 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall had seven catches for 157 yards and a TD.

Chang entered early in the second quarter when starter Jason Whieldon was shaken up on a 5-yard run. On his first play, Chang tossed a 48-yard scoring pass to Clifton Herbert to tie it at 10.

Jones didn't name his starting quarterback until gametime, then opted for Whieldon.

Chang started 11 regular-season games and threw for 3,724 yards and 24 TDs, but was benched late in the season.

``I'm happy for Timmy,'' Jones said. ``It's funny how things work out. To come off the bench and have a game like that on national TV is something I knew he could do.''

Chang said he wanted Whieldon, a senior, to play the entire game, but was happy for the opportunity.

``It's a great way to end the season, but I'm not done yet,'' Chang said. ``I'll be back.''