11:05 PM ET, November 23, 2002
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
HONOLULU (AP) -- There was no warm aloha welcome for Cincinnati at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night.
Hawaii and Cincinnati players let off some steam at Aloha Stadium.
Timmy Chang threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Cockerhan late in the fourth quarter to rally Hawaii (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today) to a 20-19 victory over Cincinnati in a game marred by a wild melee between the two teams after the contest.
Players from both teams charged onto the field and scuffled for about five minutes before order was restored by coaches and police.
As the Bearcats were escorted by police to their locker room, Warriors fans pelted the players with water bottles and trash. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, but there were no arrests.
Tension built during the game as the Bearcats were whistled for several personal foul penalties, including a late hit by linebacker Tyjuan Hagler with 2:39 left that sent Chang out of the game with an injury to his left knee.
''I'm very disappointed,'' Hawaii coach June Jones said. ''I didn't see the play. I don't know if the player was blocked into him or what. I hope he was and it wasn't an intentional thing.''
Cincinnati was flagged 14 times for 117 yards. Hawaii was called for two penalties for 15 yards.
As for the game, Cincinnati (5-6) did a good job keeping the Warriors' high-flying offense grounded. The 20 points was the lowest output of the season for the Hawaii Bowl-bound Warriors (9-2), one of the top scoring teams in the nation. The previous low for the Warriors this season was 31 points.
Before being taken from the field in a wheelchair, Chang completed 23 of 42 passes for 219 yards. An X-ray showed no fracture and an MRI was scheduled for Sunday.
The victory was Hawaii's sixth in a row and the ninth at home, dating back to last season.
''(The fight) was unfortunate that it happened, but we scored one more point than they did, so that's all I care about at this point,'' Jones said.
Cincinnati coach Rick Minter was not available for comment.
The Bearcats jumped off to a 7-0 lead early in the game when Gino Guidugli connected with Booker Vann on a 5-yard pass. For the night, Guidugli completed 19 of 41 passes for 231 yards.
Hawaii's Chad Owens, who missed the past four games with a sprained right knee, returned and made an immediate impact. His punt returns of 21 and 38 yards in the second quarter set up Hawaii's first two scores, a pair of 1-yard dives by Thero Mitchell, to give the Warriors a 14-10 halftime lead.
Cincinnati regained the lead in the third quarter, 16-14, on field goals of 35 and 25 yards by Jonathan Ruffin.
DeMarco McCleskey provided most of Cincinnati's second half comeback, picking up 64 yards in the third quarter to help set up Ruffin's points.
McCleskey became the 12th player in Cincinnati history to post a 1,000-yard season. He had 121 yards on 31 carries, giving him 1,043 for the year.
''In my eyes, I really think we won,'' he said. ''The referees really beat us this game.''
Ruffin's fourth field goal made it 19-14, but Hawaii took advantage of a short punt to set up the winning touchdown.
''We knew it was going to be rough,'' Jones said. ''This is the best team we have played. The guys battled every which way.''
If the Bearcats win their final two games, there is a chance they could return for the Hawaii Bowl.