Sports Notebook


With win, Chang chases
the ghosts of Rice past

Warriors hang on
Defense proved to be the difference for Hawaii

By Dave Reardon

HOUSTON >> He won't come out and say it in a boastful way, but it's obvious Rice is now just another team to Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang.

His horrific performances in losses against the Owls the past two seasons are now just footmarks in his career, no longer an ongoing odyssey of doubt and defeat -- and pain; it was last year's Rice game that ended with Chang staring at his injured right wrist, wondering when, and if, he could play again.

Chang chased away the ghost of Dan Dawson past (the former Rice linebacker got five of the Owls' eight interceptions against him in 2000 and 2001) while the defense exorcised the option in UH's 33-28 victory yesterday before a crowd of around 15,000 at Rice Stadium.

Winning games in the second half has almost become routine for Chang, who brought the Warriors back from a 14-7 deficit with four second-half scoring drives.

"When you win so much you find a way to win at the end," he said.

Chang drew praise from Rice coach Ken Hatfield.

"He's done a good job. He's an outstanding quarterback," Hatfield said. "Mixing in the run helped. He's a good quarterback, no doubt."

Chang completed 35 of 64 passes for 369 yards. He threw two touchdown passes, but only after an oh-no-not-again moment when he was intercepted by Clifford Sparks in the second quarter.

But Chang rebounded to effectively execute UH's game plan of mixing short passes with runs.

For the record, he praised Rice.

"They're such a great team. Regardless of the record, they play us hard and tough," Chang said.

Scouting report: NFL scouts from around 10 teams attended yesterday's game. They were particularly interested in UH offensive linemen Vince Manuwai and Lui Fuata and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, as well as Rice defensive end Brandon Green.

"You see them, but you try not to pay attention, just concentrate on what you have to do," Manuwai said. "The motivation for me today was that we lost to Rice three years in a row."

One scout's evaluation of Manuwai, who is expected to be among the first guards selected in the upcoming draft: "He's as strong as an ox and looks really good on the running plays and he runs well. We'd like to see him fly around a little bit more though."

Kajioka OK: Starting junior left guard Shayne Kajioka left the game complaining of chest pains and was taken to an area hospital. But he was diagnosed with a bruised sternum and was treated and released. He is day-to-day.

Hawaii reported no other injuries.

Battle tested: If Rice had an MVP yesterday, it was freshman wide receiver Marcus Battle. He caught five passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for a 60-yard TD on a reverse.

"He had as good a night as any receiver I've ever coached," Hatfield said. "We had more big plays in the passing game than we've had before here."

Ref-erendum: Hawaii coach June Jones' voice was hoarse after the game from yelling at the officials, who flagged UH 11 times for 99 yards. Rice was penalized four times for 41 yards.

The crew, led by referee Gene Semko, was the same group that officiated Hawaii's 40-31 victory over San Jose State two weeks ago in which the Warriors were called for 14 penalties for 133 yards and the Spartans were assessed with 14 violations for 140 yards.

After the Hawaii-San Jose State game, WAC commissioner Karl Benson voiced support for the crew.

"The players need to adjust to the officials, not the other way around," Benson said.

UH Athletics

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