12:05 AM ET, September 28, 2003
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang put on an aerial show against Rice on Saturday night, throwing 70 times for 397 yards and two touchdowns.
Warriors coach June Jones says it should've been better.
"It's a remarkable number but we needed to complete a whole lot more of them," Jones said about the 70 attempts, which set a new Western Athletic Conference record. "We dropped a lot of balls."
Chang had 293 passing yards at the half and finished the night 42-of-70 as Hawaii defeated winless Rice 41-21 in the WAC opener for both teams.
His 27 completions in the first half also set a new Hawaii record.
In just three starts for the Warriors (2-2, 1-0 WAC), the junior has thrown for 1,066 yards and six TDs. He was sidelined in the season opener against Division I-AA Appalachian State.
Both of Chang's scoring passes, of 8 and 10 yards, went to his former high school teammate Gerald Welch, who had six receptions for 71 yards.
"I missed throwing the ball to him," Chang said. "It's just great to see him out there. I love that guy. He plays hard and works hard."
But Jeremiah Cockheran paced Hawaii with six acrobatic catches for 122 yards.
"Jeremiah is just a great play maker and has a knack of just finding the ball," Chang said. "He found the ball when I didn't put it exactly where it needed to be."
Hawaii had only a 3-point advantage at the half, but forced three turnovers and scored 17 answered points in the final quarter.
The Warriors threatened to turn the game into a blowout early by jumping to a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Owls (0-4, 0-1) responded with three TDs within five minutes to cut the lead to 24-21.
After Rice receiver Marcus Battle's 5-yard scoring run on a reverse, the Owls scored on two straight fumble recoveries.
Linebacker Brandon Boyd scooped up a fumbled snap by Chang and sprinted 85 yards for a TD. On Hawaii's ensuing possession, a bad snap went sailing over punter Kurt Milne and Rice cornerback Terry Holley fell on the ball in the end zone.
Hawaii had a hard time containing Battle. He had five catches for 156 yards, including a 69-yard grab that set up Rice's first score.
But Battle was more impressed with Chang's performance than his own.
"I was amazed by Chang," he said. "I'm ready to see him play on Sunday. He's an awesome player. That boy can throw."
Rice, which extended its losing streak to six games, had an opportunity to tie the game in the third quarter, but a 37-yard field goal attempt by Brandon Skeen was blocked.
Hawaii's two fourth quarter touchdowns -- a 3-yard run by John West and a 6-yard run by Mike Bass -- put the game out of reach for Rice. Justin Ayat also added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth for the Warriors.
Notes: To avoid distraction, Rice stayed and practiced at the secluded Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore. The only problem was that a Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageant was also being held at the hotel. The only person who seemed to mind was Rice coach Ken Hatfield, who jokingly said it was all a plot by the Warriors.