Hawaii 59, UAB 40

Saturday, December 25th 2004, 11:21 am
By: News On 6

HONOLULU (AP) _ When Timmy Chang jogged off the field for the final time at Aloha Stadium, he left Hawaii with more than just a big lead in the Hawaii Bowl.

He also left behind a record-setting legacy.

Chang became the first college quarterback to pass for 17,000 yards, throwing four touchdown passes and running for another score to lead Hawaii to a 59-40 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Friday night.

``If you would've told me it would've turned out like this, I would've probably called you a liar,'' he said.

The fifth-year senior from Honolulu went 31-of-46 for 405 yards with no interceptions, spoiling the Blazers' first trip to the postseason. Co-MVP Chad Owens caught eight passes for 114 yards and two TDs for Hawaii (8-5), which made its third straight appearance in the 3-year-old bowl.

``Their offense and those two guys drove us crazy,'' Blazers coach Watson Brown said.

Owens also scored on a 59-yard punt return in the decisive third quarter, and teammate Jason Rivers added 11 receptions for 148 yards and a TD.

``I don't think it's really hitting me yet that it's over,'' Owens said. ``But when it does, it's going to hurt.''

Clinging to a 2-point lead, Hawaii scored 17 straight points in the third to take a 45-26 lead over UAB (7-5).

On Owens' spectacular return, he caught the ball at the Hawaii 41, broke a tackle near midfield and streaked down the left sideline for a touchdown. It was his fifth punt return for a score this season and his third TD of the game.

The senior also made an over-the-shoulder catch on a 15-yard pass from Chang, pushing Hawaii's lead to 35-26. With that pass, Chang became the first college quarterback to break the 17,000-yard mark for his career. He finished more than 2,000 yards ahead of Ty Detmer, who ranks second on the NCAA list.

Chang's 4-yard TD run in the fourth sealed the victory. He left to a standing ovation with 5:40 remaining and hugged coach June Jones.

``When Coach Jones told me to go in and take one last snap, it really made me sad,'' Chang said. ``I just really had an awesome time here. I'm going to miss it a lot.''

Chang owns NCAA marks for yards passing (17,072), attempts (2,436), completions (1,388), interceptions (80) and total offense (16,910). With 117 TD passes, he overtook Danny Wuerffel (114) and Tim Rattay (115), and is second to Detmer (121).

``I don't believe what he has accomplished will ever, ever be broken again,'' Jones said.

Chang threw for 4,258 yards this season, with a career-best 38 TDs. He joins Detmer as the only NCAA passers with three 4,000-yard seasons.

Chang was 19-of-27 for 308 yards and three TDs in the first half against UAB.

Last year, Chang was booed at home and benched late in the season. Yet he came off the bench and threw for 475 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-48 triple-overtime victory over Houston in the Hawaii Bowl.

Chang said he has learned a lot from the adversity he faced throughout his career.

``I've learned lifelong lessons that I'll carry off the field,'' he said.

It was the Warriors' eighth straight victory at Aloha Stadium, though they were designated the visiting team for this game.

UAB was led by quarterback Darrell Hackney, who finished 31-of-54 for 417 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a rushing TD and earned MVP honors for the Blazers.

Roddy White, the second-leading receiver in the nation, had six receptions for 113 yards.

The Blazers failed to establish their ground game against the nation's worst rush defense. And by the third quarter, they were forced to air it out. Dan Burks led UAB with 55 rushing yards on 14 carries.

``We had to go from a two-dimensional team to a passing team,'' Brown said.

A 10-yard TD run by Norris Drinkard and a 36-yard field goal by Nick Hayes cut Hawaii's lead to 28-26 at halftime, but the Blazers couldn't get any closer.

A 17-yard pass from Hackney to Lance Rhodes drew UAB within 12 points with 2:06 left, but Britton Komine returned UAB's onside kick 42 yards for a touchdown to end any hopes of a rally.

The game featured 1,079 yards of offense, including 699 in the first half.

Both high-powered offenses got off to a quick start on a 75-degree Christmas Eve, scoring five touchdowns in the first 10 minutes.

The teams traded leads until a 4-yard touchdown run by West Keliikipi and a 29-yard scoring pass from Chang to Gerald Welch put Hawaii up 21-13.

Hackney threw a dart to his favorite target, White, on a slant play that went 67 yards for a touchdown on UAB's opening series.

On the next play, Hawaii took a 7-6 lead on a 74-yard pass from Chang to Rivers, who waltzed along the sideline before breaking across the field.

But not all was lost for the Blazers, who moved up to Division I-A in 1996 after competing in Divisions III and I-AA. They got to spend a week in Waikiki.

``This week was the highlight of my career,'' UAB linebacker Zac Woodfin said.