Dec. 24, 2004
HONOLULU - Friday's Christmas Eve matchup of UAB and Hawai'i in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl had all the makings of an offensive shootout.
And certainly those in attendance at Aloha Stadium as well as the national television audience were not disappointed.
The Blazers and Warriors combined for 1,079 yards and 99 points, but while UAB outgained Hawai'i by a 590-489 count, it was the Warriors who scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to take control en route to a 59-40 victory.
Two of the Hawai'i touchdowns came on special teams as Chad Owens returned a third quarter punt 59 yards for a score and then Britton Komine sealed the win for his team when he alertly snagged an onsides kick attempt by the Blazers and raced 42 yards for the game's final score with only 1:55 remaining.
The Blazers were also hampered by a season-high 104 yards on 12 penalties.
Chang, the fifth-year senior from Honolulu, went 31-of-46 for 405 yards with no interceptions, spoiling the Blazers' first trip to a bowl game. 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.
"The offense just drove us crazy," Blazers coach Watson Brown said. "They are an awfully good football team that plays with a lot of confidence, especially on their homefield.
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.
Clinging to a two-point lead, Hawaii scored 17 straight points in the third to take a 45-26 lead, and UAB (7-5) never recovered.
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.
"No. 2 is as good a player as we've played all year," Brown said. "He's the heart and soul of this team."
The senior also made an over-the-shoulder catch on a 15-yard pass from Chang, pushing Hawaii's lead to 35-26.
Chang threw for 4,258 yards this season, with a career-best 38 TDs. He was 19-of-27 for 308 yards and three TDs in the first half of this one.
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.
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.
Hackney finished with 417 yards passing in the game, hitting 31-of-54 passes for a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. For the season, Hackney finished with 3,070 yards and 26 touchdowns.
White, who completed a brilliant All-America, senior season, concluded his Blazer career with 163 receptions for 3,112 yards and 26 touchdowns.