Despite three first-half interceptions, Tim Chang—with an assist from Jason Whieldon—guided Hawaii to 31 first-half points en route to a convincing 59-28 victory Saturday night.
The Warriors clinched a berth in the Hawaii Bowl by improving to 7-4—the seventh win makes Hawaii bowl eligible. Army, which brought in a new coaching staff just 10 months ago, closed its season 0-12 (0-8 Conference-USA).
A crowd of 35,370 saw Hawaii return to Aloha Stadium after a lengthy stretch on the road. Hawaii treated its fans to a school record-breaking night: 741 total yards.
Chang completed 25-of-43 attempts for 356 yards and two touchdowns. He threw three interceptions. Chang played the first possession of the second half and sat the rest of the way as Hawaii amassed a school record in total yardage.
His main target was Chad Owens, who caught 14 passes—another school record—for 168 yards and one touchdown. Jason Rivers had five catches for 117 yards, Jeremiah Cockheran had five for 43 yards, and Gerald Welch grabbed four passes for 53 yards.
Jason Whieldon, who played nearly the entire half, as well as one series in the first, completed 16-of-17 attempts for 178 yards, one touchdown and no picks. Hawaii had 543 yards in passing yardage—42-of-61, including Kainoa Akina's one completion.
Hawaii rushed for a season-high 208 yards, including 60 by Mike Brewster on just three carries. John West added 46 yards on 12 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
Army finished with 398 total yards. Zac Dahman completed 27-of-40 attempts for 338 yards and one touchdown. He threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
Aaron Alexander caught six passes for a team-high 95 yards, and William White had nine receptions for 71 yards. Carlton Jones caught four passes for 87 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown. He also rushed 16 times for 83 yards.
Hawaii's offensive line did not allow any sacks.
The Warriors had an auspicious start when Chang overthrew Cockheran on a post route, and Army safety Ryan Kent, who was down on the pick at the Cadets' 33-yard line.
Hawaii fared better on its next possession, marching 90 yards in 14 plays. Chang began to find his rhythm, connecting on 7-of-12 attempts to five different receivers. Redshirt freshman Nolan Miranda, attempting his first collegiate field-goal attempt, drilled a 32-yarder with 8:01 remaining in the opening quarter. Hawaii led 3-0.
Army, using a mix of single-back sets, struggled offensively from the start. Another Cadet punt gave Hawaii first down at the Warrior 35-yard line. Two plays later, Chang tossed a screen pass to left wide receiver Jason Rivers, who fought through a couple of attempted tackles and raced to the left pylon. He outran the secondary and scored on a 59-yard pass play. Miranda's PAT gave Hawaii a 10-0 lead with 5:26 to go in the first quarter.
Mere seconds later, on Army's first-down play, Kevin Millhouse stepped in front of a receiver and snatched Dahman's pass. Millhouse returned the ball 28 yards to paydirt. Miranda's extra-point kick lifted Hawaii's lead to 17-0 with 5:17 to play in the opening quarter.
Army's offense began to show signs of life, picking up two first downs on its next drive, but alas, the Cadets punted again.
Hawaii drove 71 yards in seven plays. Chang was 4-of-5 for 63 yards, including a 27-yard swing pass to Mike Bass that gave the Warriors first down at the Army 2. On the next play, Chang rolled right on a play-action play and raced in for a touchdown. Another PAT kick by Miranda, a former standout at Castle High School, a 24-0 lead with 13:54 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cadets drove to Hawaii's 26-yard line on the next possession, but ran out of downs. With reserve Jason Whieldon at quarterback, Hawaii marched right up the field for seven-play, 74-yard drive. Whieldon found Gerald Welch for 19 yards and Owens on a crossing route. Owens nearly broke away for a score, gaining 29 yards to set up Hawaii at the 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Bass took a handoff and sprinted up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run. Miranda's fourth PAT kick made it 31-0 with 8:56 to go in the first half.
Army's offense clicked on the next march. The Cadets gained six consecutive first downs in six plays as Dahman completed six consecutive passes. A pass interference call also helped Army. The Cadets had first-and-goal on the 3-yard line, but failed to score. Hawaii linebacker Chad Kalilimoku rocked Dahman on a sneak attempt, and Hawaii recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.
Chang returned to the game and threw two more interceptions, giving him three in the half. Linebacker Greg Washington read Chang's toss over the middle and picked off the pass at the Hawaii 16.
The Warriors stopped Army's ensuing possession with an interception at the 5-yard line by Abraham Eliminian. Hawaii drove to the Cadets' 17-yard line with the help of a 42-yard pass from Chang to Jason Rivers. However, Chang's toss on a swing pass was intercepted by linebacker Brian Hill, who sprinted 79 yards for a touchdown. Anthony Zurisko's extra-point kick made it 31-7 with 41 seconds to play in the half.
Hawaii amassed 482 total yards in the first half to go along with three turnovers. Chang completed 20-of-34 attempts for 319 passing yards and one touchdown. Whieldon was 4-of-6 for 59 yards.
Dahman completed 14-of-22 attempts for 139 yards with two interceptions. The Cadets had 174 total yards by intermission.
Hawaii scored on its first possession of the second half. After a 26-yard punt by Army's Tom Dyrenforth, Chang guided the Warriors on a 13-play, 44-yard drive. Owens broke the single-game receiving mark during the drive with a 9-yard catch, juke and scramble—a la Barry Sanders—for a first down. The Warriors drove to the 2, and on fourth down, Owens was hit during Chang's short pass to draw a yellow flag. The pass interference call gave Hawaii first down, and two plays later, Chang hit Owens on an out pattern for a touchdown. Miranda's PAT gave Hawaii a 38-7 lead with 8:46 to go in the third.
Army's offense came to life moments later. Dahman beat Hawaii's blitz with a screen pass to Carlton Jones, who rambled upfield and got two key blocks for a 59-yard touchdown play. Zurisko's extra-point kick cut the lead to 38-14 with 7:25 remaining.
Whieldon re-entered the game and directed the Warriors to an 11-play, 76-yard drive. Whieldon completed all three of his pass attempts, and scrambled twice for 25 yards, converting on third down each time. West capped the drive with a 5-yard scoring run off left tackle. Miranda's kick split the uprights, and Hawaii led 45-14 with 1:31 to go in the third.
Jones answered again. Two plays into Army's drive, he broke off left tackle for a 45-yard touchdown jaunt. Zurisko's kick cut the lead to 45-21 with 37 seconds remaining in the third stanza.
Whieldon was efficient on Hawaii's next drive, completing 6-of-6 pass attempts for 64 yards, including a shovel pass to West. The shifty running back raced 32 yards for a touchdown, and Miranda made it 52-21 with 10:16 left in the contest.
A 60-yard punt return by Clifton Herbert—Army punter Dyenforth made the saving tackle—set up Hawaii at the Army 27. Whieldon fired a 15-yard pass to Herbert as the Warriors moved steadily toward the goal line. West dove into the end zone on a 9-yard run around right end, and Miranda's kick gave Hawaii a 59-21 lead with 5:09 to play.
Army drove for a final score, with Jones scoring from the 1-yard line, to cap the march with 3:01 remaining.
@ Aloha Stadium 1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
Army 00 07 14 07 28
Hawaii 17 14 14 07 52