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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 7, 2004

Chang shakes off pain to pass Detmer

 •  15,303 ... and counting

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

On a night for the record — and story — books, ailing quarterback Tim Chang led Hawai'i to a 34-23 football victory over Louisiana Tech at Aloha Stadium.

University of Hawai'i center Derek Fa'avi gives quarterback Tim Chang a lift (top) after Chang (middle) set the NCAA career passing yardage record with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jason Rivers. Chang (bottom) then gave the football to his father, Levi, the on-field timekeeper.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Chang, a fifth-year senior, entered needing 14 yards to break Ty Detmer's NCAA record of 15,031 career passing yards.

Chang finished 26 of 42 for 285 yards and four touchdowns, including a crucial 14-yard strike to Chad Owens when the outcome was in suspense.

"It's very special," Chang said of the record. "I'm not going to lie."

Chang has played despite suffering partially torn ligaments in his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the first drive of the season opener. Although he winces with pain every time he turns to throw a pass, he has kept mum.

"He fought through this thing privately," said Dan Morrison, who coaches the UH quarterbacks. "He's in a pretty good deal of pain."

Morrison said Chang aggravated the injury when he was sacked during last week's 69-3 loss to Boise State. In the practices leading to last night's game, Chang worked on a new throwing delivery that wouldn't tax his left shoulder.

"He's been working on his balance, and he's throwing differently, without the normal mechanics," Morrison said. "He's done a good job of adjusting to it. He's a very sharp quarterback. Whether he's hurt or not, he knows how to throw the ball really well. He made some critical throws and threw some very catchable passes."

Chang said he endures the pain because of the "competition and the drive to play. I remember being booed last year in the Alabama game. When I got benched, that really hit a light for me. You can lose this game any time. Your job can be taken or you might be hurt and you might never be able to play this great game. I play every game like it's my last."

Chang, who also broke Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury's record for most career completions last night, extended the drama of becoming the NCAA's career passing champion. Needing 9 yards to surpass Detmer, he completed an 8-yard pass to wideout Jason Rivers on UH's second possession. Four plays later, from the LaTech 7, Chang found Rivers in the back of the end zone for a touchdown — and a place in NCAA football history.

"I heard people going wild," Rivers said. "I thought, 'Are they cheering for me?' Then I realized Timmy broke the record. I was looking for the ball to give to him, but the referee beat me to the punch."

UH coach June Jones said: "Timmy did a nice job, and it's a record that will just keep going."

Chang was at his best on the Warriors' final scoring drive, in the fourth quarter. After the Bulldogs cut a 14-point deficit to 27-23 on Danny Horwedel's 22-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter, Chang directed the Warriors on a nine-play, 82-yard touchdown drive.

On third-and-10 from the UH 43, Chang and Rivers collaborated on a 36-yard play off a post pattern. "They played us outside, and the post was open all night," said Rivers, who caught eight passes for 137 yards. "At the beginning, I went over to Timmy to let him know I was open on the post. We communicate well together."

The drive was punctuated with Chang's 14-yard scoring pass to Owens, building the Warriors' lead to 34-23 with 11:58 to play.

"We do that every day in practice," Owens said. "I thought I should have caught some earlier passes, but as long as I made the one that counted, I'm happy. And I'm happy we got the win. It was big for us."

Despite Chang's performance, the Warriors could not shake the Bulldogs. In particular, they had few answers for running Ryan Moats, who styles himself after former NFL standout Barry Sanders, even wearing the same jersey No. 20.

Moats dodged, weaved and flat-out sprinted through the UH defense for 228 rushing yards. Moats, who entered as the nation's sixth-leading rusher with 151.6 yards per game, played on a sprained ankle.

Moats was limping noticeably after the game. "It's an ankle injury," he said, "but I had to keep going. That's my job. It's part of the game, baby."

What pained Moats was a first-quarter fumble that was parlayed into cornerback Abraham Elimimian's 21-yard return for a touchdown, giving the Warriors a 13-7 lead they would not relinquish.

With the Bulldogs trailing 27-20 late in the third quarter, Moats took a handoff on a third-down play from the UH 2. But before he could reach the perimeter on a sweep to the left, he was tackled for a 3-yard loss by Darrell Tautofi, forcing the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal.

"It was a blitz and I was supposed to go on the other side of the center," said Tautofi, who filled in for ailing defensive tackle Lui Fuga (sprained right hand). "I just happened to do that, and the running back was right there."

The Warriors foiled the Bulldogs' two threats in the fourth quarter — one ending with Melila Purcell's sack, the other when quarterback Matt Kubik threw incomplete on fourth down from the UH 3.

"We played hard, but we had some opportunities we didn't take advantage of," Kubik said.

Two first-year Warriors — safety Landon Kafentzis and weakside linebacker Brad Kalilimoku — made their first NCAA starts. With freshman C.J. Allen-Jones receiving extended playing time at strongside linebacker, the Warriors simplified their 4-3 defense. Instead of using a menu of 12 defensive calls, the Warriors went with a keiki section of six plays.

"We simplified our keys," safety Leonard Peters said. "That guy (Moats) got a lot of yards, but we stopped them when we needed to."

Tautofi said: "I knew we'd do good because we had a good week of practice. Whatever we do in practice transfers over to the game. Practice make perfect."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8051.