Warriors Finish the Season With A Bang!

HONOLULU - There's no place like home, especially on Christmas eve, as Hawai'i outscored Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) 31-14 in the second half to win the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, 59-40, Friday at Aloha Stadium.

A crowd of 39,754 filled the stands, the largest in Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl history. Quarterback Timmy Chang threw for 405 (31-of-46) yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for another, while slot receiver Chad Owens caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and scored another on a 59-yard punt return, to put an exclamation point on both storied careers. The two were named the game's co-MVPs, along with UAB quarterback Darrell Hackney. Chang finished with 17,072 passing yards, the new NCAA career record. Chang finished his UH career owning 28 school passing records and 16 school total offense records. Owens finished as UH's career leader with 5,461 all-purpose yards and owns three UH all-purpose yardage records, five UH receiving records, five scoring records, six kickoff return records, and five school records for punt returns. UAB (7-5) got the ball moving on its first possession of the game when Darrell Hackney found Roddy White for a 51-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-6. After Hawai`i's Melila Purcell blocked the PAT, Chang found Jason Rivers who made a leaping catch on the near sideline and sprinted 74 yards for a touchdown. Justin Ayat's PAT gave the Warriors a 7-6 lead, but not for long. The Blazers regained the lead when Hackney orchestrated an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 4-yard run by Dan Burks to put UAB ahead, 13-7. Chang, who completed a string of 10 passes for 215 yards in the first quarter, answered with an 83-yard drive. West Keliikipi's 4-yard touchdown run, set-up by a 52-yard catch-and run by Owens, put Hawai`i up 14-13. And then it was Gerald Welch's turn. The senior caught two passes, one that he managed to juggle into his hands for a 9-yard game, and another for a 29-yard touchdown, which gave Hawai`i a 21-13 lead. Welch finished the game with six catches for 85 yards and a score, and left immediately after the game was over to tend to his wife who was giving birth to the couple's second child. The Warriors took a 28-16 lead when Chang found Owens for a 13-yard touchdown, but the Blazers gambled and won on a 4th-and-6 from the 32-yard line. Three plays later, Norris Drinkard took it in from 10 yards out to make it 28-23. UAB's Nick Hayes added a 36-yard field goal to make it 28-26 at halftime. The Warrior air show continued in the second half. Chang threw a 15-yard strike to Owens to put Hawai`i ahead, 35-26. The pass put Chang over the 17,000-yard mark as college football's career passing leader. Four minutes later, Owens side-stepped his way for a 59-yard score down the near sideline, to put the Warriors up 42-26. Justin Ayat added a 43-yard field goal, but Hackney managed an 80-yard drive and scored on a 4-yard touchdown rush to bring the score to, 45-33, heading into the fourth quarter. Chang helped put the game out of reach, putting together a 15-play, 85-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown scramble with 9:05 left to play. Hackney hit Lance Rhodes for a 17-yard touchdown to cut the warrior lead to 12 with 2:05 left in the game, but Britton Komine returned the onside kick 42-yards to the house to end all hopes for the Blazers. Warriors wide receiver Jason Rivers led all receivers with 11 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. UAB's Roddy White led the Blazers with six catches for 113 yards and one touchdown. Linebacker Watson Hoohuli led the Warriors with 10 tackles, while UAB free safety Dominique Cosper also finished with 10 tackles.

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