Football Throwbacks: Utah State

The Deans, as UH was known back then, edged the Utah Aggies, as Utah State was known back then, 21-20 in 1927. / Honolulu Advertiser file

There’s throwbacks, and then there’s all-the-way-backs.

Today’s edition of Warrior World’s “Football Throwbacks” is decidedly the latter. The first meeting between Hawaii and today’s opponent, Utah State, occurred back in 1927 — representing one of the first all-collegiate matchups to occur on Oahu.

USU, ranked No. 18 going into today’s matchup at Aloha Stadium, has decisively gotten the better of UH since the two made the transition from the WAC to the Mountain West. The Aggies are 3-0 in MWC matchups, winning those by 37, 21, and 38 points, and overall they’ve won four straight since 2011 to take the lead in the series, 9-6.

But UH got off to a good start in the series with the 21-20 win over the “Utah Aggies” by the “Hawaii Fighting Deans,” as they were then known, at the brand-new Honolulu Stadium (then just a year old!) on Dec. 17, 1927. It was the just the program’s 14th game against a collegiate opponent since UH football originated as a club sport in 1909. The first collegiate game came against Nevada in 1920; prior to that UH was playing assorted clubs, high schools and local military teams.

Coach Otto “Proc” Klum’s Deans got the better of turnover breaks, or as the Honolulu Advertiser wrote, “(UH was) showing an uncanny faculty for following the ball and being able to convert the extra points after touchdown.”

The Deans scored twice in the first five minutes and led the Aggies 14-13 at halftime. A USU fumble three minutes into the game set up quarterback/kicker Rusty Holt’s 32-yard pass to MacFarlane — who was simply listed as MacFarlane. The one-named wonder scored again not long after on another Aggies fumble in their territory.

UPDATE: That would be Walter Macfarlane, who played at UH in the late 1920s.

USU’s 200-pound fullback known only as “Hawley” kept things competitive, accounting for his team’s first two touchdowns, but USU failed on one of the PATs, which proved costly. Hawley might’ve even had the Aggies’ third touchdown, too; it’s not specified how they got to 20.

No one scored in the third. Then, UH got a key fourth-down interference call against USU and Bill Blaisdell’s rushes set up Holt’s score around the right end in the fourth quarter, making it 21-13. USU scored one more time in the game’s final moments.

Quoth the Advertiser on its front page (no byline was listed for the territorial newspaper): “A strong wind aided the Deans in the first half, rain fell in the last two periods and once the Rainbows had solved the puzzling Utah crisscrosses and off tackle smashes much of the power of the visitors’ attack was sapped.”

The Advertiser debuted its own radio broadcast for pregame warmups on KGU, with Ez Crane on the call, and transcribed it for the next day’s paper. The highlight was Crane saying, “Just a moment please while I borrow a knife from some one. I won’t tell you what I want it for, but you can hold a guessing contest on it.”

UH hosted Santa Clara a couple weeks later, losing 18-12 to wrap up the season at 5-2. Coach Dick Romney’s Aggies went 3-4-1 that year.

Here’s what appeared on the front of the next day’s Honolulu Advertiser and the inside page:
The_Honolulu_Advertiser_Sun__Dec_18__1927_ (1)