Warriors move up to second place in WAC

Updated: October 26, 2003, 10:27 PM ET

HONOLULU -- Weak, dehydrated and ailing with a fever, Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang got the remedy he needed -- a dose of coach June Jones.

Chang has suffered from flu-like symptoms beginning Friday and struggled early in Saturday night's game against Texas-El Paso. But he returned to form after having fluids replaced intravenously and having a talk with Jones to lead the Warriors to a 31-15 victory.

"He motivates me everyday," Chang said of his coach. "I'm very inspired by the man. He just tells me to go out there and do it and play hard."

The junior signal caller was off the mark in the first half, overthrowing several open receivers. He completed 11-of-26 passes for 176 yards, but 84 yards came on two short shovel passes to Michael Brewster who had eight catches for 138 yards.

Chang finished the night completing 27-of-54 for 426 yards and three touchdowns.

"He really did a nice job in the second half," Jones said. "We gave him an IV at halftime and challenged him to throw the ball accurately and he did."

With the victory, Hawaii (5-3, 4-1 Western Athletic Conference) took sole possession of second place in the WAC behind Boise State.

The Warriors and the first-place Broncos play on Dec. 6 at Aloha Stadium, a game that could decide the conference winner.

"We've got to win on the road twice and if we can maintain our field advantage, then we have a chance to win the WAC," Jones said.

The Warriors are on a three-game winning streak and are 4-0 at home this season.

"We're picking up some momentum," Chang said. "We didn't play our best game, but whatever we do to win is big for us."

UTEP (2-6, 1-2) has now lost its past five games at Aloha Stadium by a combined 224-46.

Miners coach Gary Nord said it seems everybody loses in Honolulu.

"It's a difficult trip," he said. "They have a great offense, a great quarterback, a great system and good receivers out there."

Justin Ayat converted all four of his field goal attempts to help Hawaii, but he missed two extra point attempts.

The Warriors opened up their largest lead of the game midway through the third quarter on a 6-yard pass from Chang to Miyashiro that made it 25-6.

"We didn't look too flashy," Chang said. "We just had to find a way to win. I was just trying to get the ball to the receivers as best as I could. The receivers did a great job of running after the catch."

UTEP cut the lead to 25-15 on a 1-yard plunge by freshman quarterback Jordan Palmer, who returned to action after being sidelined two games with a hairline fracture of his shin bone.

But a 13-yard touchdown toss from Chang to Jeremiah Cockheran with 2:28 left put the game out of reach.

"It was just frustrating because the defense kept us in the game the whole night," said Palmer, who went 12 for 28 for 154 yards. "It's frustrating because when the defense plays that well, against an offense that good, we have to score some points and not rely on the kicker to score all the points."

UTEP entered Hawaii territory eight times, but managed just one touchdown.

"We couldn't get the ball in the end zone," Palmer said. "Our red-zone offense just wasn't clicking and I take the blame for that."

Matt Austin led UTEP's ground game with 112 yards on nine carries, including a 52-yard run. Howard Jackson rushed 24 times for 100 yards.

"We made some plays and we made some stops but we still missed a lot of tackles," Jones said. "We just don't tackle very well and it's very frustrating. We're going to have to tackle better than that if we want to stay on course."

UTEP's offense stalled after Keith Robinson kicked a 44-yard field goal on the game's opening drive.

The Miners punted three times and fumbled in their next four possessions before Robinson converted a 40-yard field goal attempt to cut the Warriors' lead to 12-6 with 38 seconds left in the half.

Hawaii responded 30 seconds and four plays later with a field goal to take a 15-6 lead into the locker room.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index