On paper, this game looked to be all offense, but the Warrior defense also made big plays, including a goal line stand to retain a 49-33 lead in the fourth quarter. The defense, which allowed the Warriors to take the lead in the first half by keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone, also limited the Wildcat offense to 5-of-14 on 3rd-down conversions.
On offense, Chang got off to a slow start, throwing two interceptions in his first six pass attempts. The second pick led to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Brett Basanez to wide receiver Kim Thompson to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead. A pair of field goals by Joel Howells gave Northwestern a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Chang found his groove in the second quarter, completing 10-of-15 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns, all to slot receiver Chad Owens. The Warriors took a 21-20 lead when West Keliikipi bullied his way into the end zone from six yards out with 2:20 remaining in the half.
Hawai`i got the ball back with 26 second left in the first half after the Warrior defense forced a Northwestern punt. Three plays later, Chang hit Owens on the far sideline for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Warriors ahead 28-20 going into the locker room.
Owens greeted the third quarter with a career-long 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Warriors ahead 35-20. The touchdown return gave Owens fourth this season, breaking the school record set by Bobby Ahu in 1969. The senior finished the game with nine catches for 155 yards and four touchdowns, and four punt returns for 104 yards and a score.
Northwestern scored twice, once on a fake field goal, and another on a 6-yard run by Basanez, but the Chang and Owens show continued. The duo hooked up for a 16-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-15, to put the Warriors up, 49-33, at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats blocked a punt and T.J. Jones returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to bring Northwestern to within eight with 6:55 to play. Hawai`i's attempt to seal the win fell short when Justin Ayat missed a 32-yard field goal, giving the Wildcats the ball with 2:12 left on the clock.
Basanez and the Wildcats marched down the field into UH territory and threatened to score, but the drive was halted by an interception by Warrior safety Leonard Peters at the 11-yard line, allowing Hawai`i to run out the clock. Peters co-led the Warriors wit 11 tackles, along with linebacker Watson Ho`ohuli.
Owens broke the school record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. He also tied the UH record for most points (30) and touchdowns (5) in a game (Heikoti Fakava vs. Yale, Oct. 3, 1987).
Chang, the NCAA career passing leader, has 16,251 career passing yards and 16,060 yards of total offense, also an NCAA record. He is fourth in NCAA career touchdown passes with 109 and needs 13 to break the record of 121 set by Brigham Young's Ty Detmer.
Hawai`i and Michigan State square-off Dec. 4 at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. on ESPN2.