The Hawaii football program won a recruiting war that bore fruit on this date in 1984.
Keith “Junior” Lopati ran for 66 yards on 13 carries and caught four passes for 92 yards and Hawaii beat Utah 20-17 before a crowd of 40,000 at Aloha Stadium on this date in 1984.
All of Lopati’s yards were crucial in the contest, catching a 58-yard touchdown pass from Raphel Cherry in the third quarter to give UH at 13-10 lead. After the defense yielded a rare score it came up big with Rich Miano recovering a fumble at midfield with 5:12 left. Vincent Sides made the hit.
From there, Lopati covered 11 yards on a third-and-six, 16 yards on a second-and-11 and most importantly two yards on a fourth-and-1 from the 18 yard-line. Nuu Faaola punched in the telling score from six yards out for his first career touchdown with 1:24 left.
It was Hawaii’s fourth straight fourth-quarter comeback.
Lopati, a freshman from Salt Lake City, was supposed to be on the other sideline. He was recuited by Utah but lost his chance when the school signed blue chippers Eddie Johnson and Tony Cospy. Johnson gained 18 yards on 16 carries against UH while Cospy didn’t touch the ball.
Spurned by Utah, Lopati chose Hawaii over BYU and made the Utes pay when they visited the islands.
Unfortunately, Lopati’s bright future was derailed by three knee surgeries but he came back each time. The redshirt freshman scored 10 touchdowns in this three years and averaged 7.2 yards every time he touched the ball on plays from scrimmage. He averaged 18.6 yards on nine kick and punt returns.