Chang named Warriors’
Most Valuable Player

The QB set the NCAA passing-
yardage record and led Hawaii
to seven straight home wins

There's often a big difference between projecting the highest profile and being the best.

Quarterback Tim Chang -- Hawaii's most-publicized football player -- bridged the gap this season, providing game to match his fame.

Chang, who set the NCAA career passing-yardage record this season, received UH's Most Valuable Player award at the Warriors' annual banquet last night at the Sheraton Waikiki.

"He's been more focused and worked harder this year," UH coach June Jones said. "He was flawless at home."

Lately, anyway. After a season-opening loss to Florida Atlantic, the senior from Saint Louis School led the Warriors (7-5) to seven consecutive home victories, including Saturday's come-from-behind 41-38 win over Michigan State. UH's third triumph in a row qualified the Warriors for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 against Alabama-Birmingham.

"We had a conversation a month or so back. We talked about how he needed to shoot the lights out these last three games," Jones said. "And he did it. He made the plays and led his team."

Chang didn't live up to the Heisman Trophy-candidate hype generated by Jones, but he did well enough to earn first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors for the first time.

After a second consecutive four-touchdown-pass performance Saturday, Chang has 34 TD passes and just 13 interceptions this year. He always had gaudy yardage numbers, but his career TD-INT ratio going into this season wasn't much better than 1-to-1.

Chad Owens, who has nine of his 19 touchdowns this season in UH's last two games, was a double awardee last night. The senior from Roosevelt High won the Captain's Award for offense, and the Warrior Club honor for special teams. Owens holds the school records for career all-purpose yardage and punt-return yardage.

"Chad is a great kid and a hard worker," Jones said. "He can take over a game in different ways."

Senior defensive tackle Lui Fuga won the Ben Yee Most Inspirational Player Award, and sophomore cornerback Kenny Patton was named Scholar-Athlete.

Senior defensive back Abraham Elimimian and senior special-teams player Chad Kapanui also won Captain's Awards.

Senior running back Michael Brewster and junior defensive end Mel Purcell also won Warrior Club honors.

Scout team awards went to Keith Ah Soon (offense), Clarence Tuioti-Mariner (defense) and Orlando Wong (special teams).

Inferrera eligible: UH sophomore offensive lineman Jeremy Inferrera is eligible to play in the Hawaii Bowl, despite getting into a fight during Saturday's game.

Spartans defensive lineman Clifton Ryan and Inferrera threw blows at each other during the second quarter. Jones said referee Frank White initially ejected only Ryan. Jones then pulled Inferrera out of the game, and, in the interest of keeping peace, asked White to signal that Inferrera was ejected, he said.

"Jeremy wasn't ejected (at first). I held him out. I had Frank eject him, for the Michigan State sideline," Jones said.

NCAA rules dictate a one-game suspension for ejections involving fighting. Inferrera's ejection was for excessive force, which does not come with a suspension.

"The other kid punched first, then Jeremy punched," Jones said. "But you can't throw punches and play."

Inferrera started four games at right tackle this season.

Michigan State was penalized 16 times for 119 yards compared to five for 35 for UH by a mixed crew of WAC and Big 12 officials. The Spartans had two touchdowns and a key first down called back.

"I thought they called it the way they saw it, and the calls went both ways," Jones said. "They could've called holding on every play. I've never seen flagrant holding and tackling on every play like that before. There probably should've been more."

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he had not received any complaints about the officiating as of late yesterday.

"I did notice there was a discrepancy (in the number of penalties)," he said. "The officials are evaluated each game by our supervisor."

Referee Frank White had his own thoughts of the calls during the game.

"It came across on ESPN that the calls were fair. So I guess we're OK," White said. Michigan State was flagged seven times for holding. "I think sometimes holding comes with fatigue. I think they were getting tired in the second half. When you can't move your feet, the next way to try to stop them is to hold them. The same thing happens to Hawaii on the road when they get fatigued."

The Hawaii Bowl will be officiated by a crew from a conference other than those of the participating teams.

Fan friendly: Jones praised the biggest home crowd of the season (36,938 turnstile, 41,654 tickets distributed).

"I'm thankful we had a great crowd, the marketing department did a good job helping to get people to come out," Jones said. "The fans were tremendous and had a huge impact on the game."

Schedule not set: Jones said the Warriors will meet today to figure out a practice schedule for the Hawaii Bowl.

"This week we'll take time for schoolwork and finals and do some lifting and running," he said.

Big wins and big lossesagainst big names

Hawaii is 4-5 in games against teams from BCS conferences in coach June Jones' six years at UH. The Warriors have games scheduled in the next two seasons against Michigan State, USC, Purdue and Alabama.

Date Opponent Score
Sept. 4, 1999 USC L, 62-7
Nov. 27, 1999 Washington State L, 22-14
Dec. 25, 1999 Oregon State W, 23-17
Nov. 25, 2000 Wisconsin L, 34-18
Nov. 30, 2002 Alabama L, 21-16
Sept, 13, 2003 at USC L, 62-31
Nov. 29, 2003 Alabama W, 37-29
Nov. 27, 2004 Northwestern W, 49-41
Dec. 4, 2004 Michigan State W, 41-38

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