Football Throwbacks: Wyoming

Hawaii played before a crowd of about 47,000 for its first WAC win over Wyoming in 1984. Pictured, Nuu Faaola's block allowed Louis Santiago to sweep in for a 1-yard touchdown. / Honolulu Advertiser/Star-Bulletin file

The Paniolo Trophy is up for grabs today between two old WAC foes.

In that spirit, we’re taking today’s “Football Throwbacks” entry back into the thick of the WAC battles between the Rainbows and the Cowboys, a series that began in 1978 and was played every year through 1997 — a 20-year span.

Wyoming has won six of the last seven meetings going back to 1993. The Cowboys are 2-1 against UH as Mountain West foes, with both of those wins coming in Laramie in overtime.

Let’s zoom back well before that, to 1984. Wyoming had won the previous two years. UH entered the game at Aloha Stadium on a five-game winning streak after dropping the first three games of the year to Cal State Fullerton, Colorado State and No. 4 BYU. Wyoming and its vaunted wishbone offense entered on a three-game winning streak, and had won the last three meetings at Aloha Stadium. UH had never beat Wyoming at Aloha Stadium in the WAC, because the Rainbows’ 27-22 win in 1978 came a year before UH’s first season of conference membership.

But, on Nov. 3, 1984, the Rainbows and coach Dick Tomey defeated Wyoming 31-28 for their sixth straight win, thanks to Richard Spelman’s 20-yard field goal with 10:32 left and interceptions of Cowboys quarterback Scott Runyan by Kent Kafentzis and Rich Miano in the final 2:19.

Honolulu Advertiser writer Ferd Lewis estimated that there were 47,000 people in house in Halawa. They witnessed the UH defense, anchored by Al Noga, contain Wyoming to 292 yards yards of total offense after arriving with an average of 388.9.

Quarterback Raphel Cherry passed for 332 yards, breaking the 36-year-old record of 302 held by Richard Mamiya. Cherry connected with Kent Untermann for touchdowns of 9 and 6 yards.

Wyoming took leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14. UH, which was without running back Junior Lopati for the game, turned to Nuu Faaola to gave UH a 28-21 lead on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter. But Wyoming would tie it at 28 early in the fourth after a Faaola fumble.

Dave Evans finished with three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys.

UH, which improved to 6-3 and 4-2 in the WAC, would finish the season 7-4 overall and 5-2, good for second place behind nine-time conference champ BYU. Wyoming, coached by Al Kincaid, dropped to 5-5 and 4-3, and would finish the year 6-6 and 4-4.

Here was the next day’s Honolulu Advertiser/Honolulu Star-Bulletin joint venture. No quotes, unfortunately, in this one, possibly because of the game rubbing up against deadline.
Advertiser Star-Bulletin Nov. 4 1984 Wyoming P1
Advertiser Star-Bulletin Nov. 4 1984 Wyoming P2


  1. H-Man October 6, 2018 4:28 pm

    Wow, 1984 with such names as Al Noga, Rich Miano, Kent Kafentzis, Nuu Faaola, Junior Lopati, Kent Unterman, Richard Spelman and Ralph Cherry. Wasn’t Cherry’s first name Rafael, but it was simplified to Ralph. I’ll always remember Junior Lopati’s football career was cut short because of a vicious late hit in the end zone – way after he crossed the goal line after scoring a TD. IMO Junior could have been Hawaii’s greatest running back if not for the career ending injury. Noga, Miano. Cherry and Faaola played on Sundays (UH NFL Warriors). I thought Kent Unterman played for Tampa Bay but I don’t see his name on the list.

  2. Boolakanaka October 6, 2018 6:11 pm

    You might be thinking about Ron Hall….R.I.P. Ron.

  3. iGrokSpock October 7, 2018 12:16 pm

    Kent Untermann is the Pictures Plus owner. He made it to the Dallas Cowboys rookie training camp, but an injury ended his NFL career.

    Raphel. His first name is Raphel.

    Oh come on. How many buses can there be? I am definitely not a robot.

  4. H-Man October 7, 2018 5:38 pm

    Boola, yup, it was Ron Hall. Ahhh… 73, time and age has worn away the brain cells as memory fades.

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