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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Broncos' Dinwiddie leaves no doubt who's the best QB

 •  Broncos whack Warriors
 •  Whieldon, Chang able to play through 'situation'
 •  LaBoy had UH off to good start
 •  Boise State's depth proved too much
 •  Photo gallery: UH vs. BSU

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

Tim Chang or Jason Whieldon?

The longtime incumbent or the veteran backup?

For two weeks now the debate has been a staple of heated conversation and a flash point of argument as the University of Hawai'i's first full-fledged quarterback controversy in years has raged around water coolers, on the Internet, in newspaper pages and across talk-radio.

But last night, before a national cable audience, it hardly mattered.

For on a night when both of them played — and played well to a cheering, supportive audience of 35,315 — even their combined efforts weren't enough in a 45-28 loss to Boise State.

Against Boise State — 18 straight in conference and 8-0 this year — the best, most dominating team the Western Athletic Conference has seen since Brigham Young University's early 1980s heyday, this time even two arms weren't better than one.

At least when the one was attached to Broncos' quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie.

Chang and Whieldon's combined 305 passing yards and three touchdowns weren't enough, not when Dinwiddie's supporting cast was the 17th-ranked team in the republic and a peerless special teams.

And by Dinwiddie's standards, which are Rocky Mountain-high, it almost qualified as an average game statistically with but 329 yards and no touchdown passes.

Still, there would be no mistaking who the man of the hour — most of the 3 hours, 39 minutes, actually — was.

Harassed and haunted by UH defensive end Travis LaBoy, who overcame two and three blockers, and sacked four times by the Warriors, Dinwiddie nevertheless made the plays, completing 20 of 31 passes with one rare interception. This against combined 33-of-63 passing (and three interceptions) by the Warriors' aerial game.

Time and again Dinwiddie would pick himself up off the turf and limp off the field only to return on subsequent series and thread a key second or third-down pass completion.

With the Broncos clinging precariously to a 24-21 lead in the third quarter, Dinwiddie made his statement completing, at one point, nine consecutive passes to help the Broncos take it to 38-28.

"He (Dinwiddie) made some great throws under a lot of pressure," Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said. "He got hit right in the teeth and was able to stand in there and make some throws."

If there was a grinch who took some of the air out of celebration of the last regular-season game for 20 UH seniors, it was the Broncos' own most-decorated senior.

And it did not go unnoticed by the nearly 2,000 Boise State faithful who made the trip. After the game, when Dinwiddie went to the North end zone stands where they were quartered, he was given an ovation and sendoff that measured up to the ones UH partisans were giving their own.

For this game, at least, there was no quarterback controversy in Halawa. The best one on the field wore the Broncos' No. 7.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.