9:00 PM ET, October 25, 2002
Bulldog Stadium, FRESNO, CA
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Timmy Chang's head finally caught up with his arm.
Chang threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Britton Komine with 2:25 left, capping a spectacular performance while leading Hawaii to a dramatic 22-point rally Friday night in a 31-21 victory over Fresno State.
Chang was 36-for-61 for a career-high 462 yards, cementing his place among the nation's leaders in total offense. More importantly, the sophomore quarterback was cool and collected while leading a fourth-quarter comeback after Hawaii trailed 21-9 with 14 minutes left.
Since he threw his first pass for the Warriors (6-2, 5-1 WAC) more than two years ago, few have doubted Chang's formidable talent -- but some wondered if he would develop the other attributes of great quarterbacks.
"I know, it was in here,'' Chang said, tapping the side of his head. "I'd never played this well in such a big game. I couldn't let the bad things that happen get me down. I have to gather the team around me and lead them.''
Hawaii coach June Jones called it his biggest victory in four seasons at the school. It was the Warriors' first victory in Fresno since 1973, and it kept Hawaii in the thick of the conference race while seriously hurting the Bulldogs' bowl chances.
''(Chang) stood in there and took some hits, and he delivered the ball anyway, just like the great ones do,'' Jones said. "This was the biggest test we've had, and we played as well as we could play on the road in the fourth quarter.''
Several former Hawaii players were in the vocal cheering section at Bulldog Stadium. The night before the game, the current Warriors were shown a highlight film and treated to testimonials by former players.
"It was inspiring. It really got us going,'' Komine said.
It didn't get them going until early in the fourth, when Chang hit Justin Colbert for a 58-yard TD. After Kevin Millhouse made the first of two fourth-quarter interceptions with 5:25 left, Chang began the 51-yard drive that got the lead for Hawaii. He completed five straight passes before the drive stalled at the 13.
On fourth down, Jones told Chang to dump the ball off for a short first-down pass -- unless Komine was wide open over the middle. Chang never hesitated, delivering the ball to Komine in the center of the end zone.
"It was right on the money,'' Komine said. "I've probably never caught an easier pass.''
Chang made one concession to his still-emerging maturity, however. After completing the subsequent 2-point pass to Komine, Chang taunted the Fresno State sideline and the Bulldogs running off the field.
"Nah, I was just having fun,'' he said with a grin.
After Millhouse intercepted Paul Pinegar's long pass to the end zone in the final minute, John West ran 81 yards straight up the middle for another score with 41 seconds left as Hawaii was trying to run out the clock.
Fresno State stifled Chang and Hawaii's high-powered passing attack -- which was ranked second in the nation -- until the fourth quarter, when the Warriors amassed 283 of their 546 total yards. The Bulldogs got three sacks against Hawaii's powerful offensive line, which had allowed just 1½ sacks all season.
Dee Meza blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown for the Bulldogs (4-5, 2-2), who lost at home for just the fifth time in 32 games under coach Pat Hill.
By the time it ended, Fresno State was reeling from bad defense, 13 penalties and a host of missed opportunities.
"It's bad, but we've had tough losses before,'' said Pinegar, who passed for 167 yards and was sacked five times. "We can keep fighting and battling. We can still have a winning season.''
Rodney Davis ran for 140 yards and a touchdown, and his older brother Marque Davis caught a TD pass in front of 37,615 fans -- the smallest crowd at Bulldog Stadium in three years.
Fresno State took an early lead on Rodney Davis' 3-yard TD run, but the Bulldogs were penalized eight times for 68 yards in the first half, prompting at least three hat-throwing outbursts by Hill.
Chang, already Hawaii's career passing leader after just 20 games, had difficulty hitting open receivers until the magical fourth. He overthrew Jeremiah Cockerham on a third down midway through the third quarter -- and Meza blocked the resulting punt, picked up the loose ball and sprinted 10 yards for a score, giving the Bulldogs a 21-9 lead.
Justin Ayat kicked three field goals for the Warriors.