The Games

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Arizona’s “cactus-fed athletes” convincingly introduce themselves to Occidental

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
General history
J.F. “Pop” McKale
The games
Comparisons then and now
Wildcats nickname
Military service
Rankings
The players

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Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

Excerpt from L.A. Times, Nov. 8, 1914, authored by Bill Henry:

“Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes, despite heroic efforts on the part of their two halfbacks, (Asa) Porter and (Franklin) Luis, went down to defeat before the Occidental Tigers yesterday afternoon, the tally with all precincts heard from being 14 to 0 in favor of the Tigers.
Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces, but before the game was 10 seconds old they knew they had a battle on their hands.
The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

This site will conduct a countdown in a 100-day period, leading up to Arizona’s 2014 football season-opener with UNLV on Aug. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff countdown will include information daily about the historic 1914 Arizona team that helped create the school’s nickname of “Wildcats” because of how they played that fateful day against Occidental.

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Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times' story written by Bill Henry about the Arizona-Occidental game

Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times’ story written by Bill Henry about the Arizona-Occidental game

Arizona took the field against Occidental in 1914 as a nondescript program with the nicknames of “Varsity” and “Red and Blue”.

The Tigers were two-time California champions with one of the best operations in all of college football at that time.

Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry started his game story by writing “Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes …” J.F. “Pop” McKale’s team was nothing more than a symbol of the desert territorial region that formed into a state only two years prior.

Arizona played with passion from the opening kickoff as if to say, “Allow us to introduce ourselves …”

“Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces,” Henry writes, “but before the game was 10 seconds old, they knew they had a battle on their hands.”

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THE LAST WEEK IN THE SERIES:

No. 8: Overconfident Occidental suits up for Arizona without head coach, who scouts elsewhere
No. 9: Varsity’s busy pregame preparation against Occidental includes reading letters from co-eds
No. 10: Enthusiastic Varsity travels to Los Angeles to face Occidental
No. 11: Tribute to 1914 team members in lingo of that generation
No. 12: 1914 team member Condron one of Tucson’s historic developers
No. 13: Sadness overcomes campus with star’s accidental death
No. 14: Top 14 reasons why 1914 Arizona football team important to program’s history

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Arizona’s historic game, one in which Henry tabbed the Varsity as having “the fight of wild cats”, could have been a rout for Occidental from the start. That would have changed the course of history. What would Arizona’s nickname be today?

Occidental, without their head coach Joe Pipal, who was away scouting the Pomona-Whittier game, blew plenty of early scoring opportunities. They lacked discipline from the start. The first half at Baer Field in Los Angeles featured a few long runs by Occidental, all of which were called back because of penalties.

Sid Foster‘s 70-yard touchdown run and 50-yard punt return for a touchdown were both nullified because of holding penalties.

A 60-yard touchdown reception by Pete Lenz of Occidental was called back because of holding.


Caption here

The 1914 Arizona football team that earned the honor of being named the first “Wildcats” was composed of (front row, left to right): Verne La Tourette, George Seeley, Leo Cloud, Richard Meyer, Asa Porter. Second row: Franklin Luis, Lawrence Jackson, Ray Miller, J.F. “Pop” McKale (coach), Turner Smith, Harry Hobson (manager), Orville McPherson, Albert Crawford, Ernest Renaud. Back row: Albert Condron, Emzy Lynch, Charley Beach, Vinton Hammels, Bill Hendry, George Clawson, Harry Turvey.
(AllSportsTucson.com graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

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What they were talking about on this day in 1914

Saturday, Aug. 22, 1914

The Boston Braves, 15 games behind and in last place on July 4, move within a half-game of National League-leader New York. Cincinnati beats the Giants 9-4 after it turned a triple play in the sixth to quell a rally. Boston splits a doubleheader, which includes a 12-inning victory in the second game. New York is in first with a 59-47 record. Boston is next at 59-48.

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Henry reports that Arizona countered significantly with its running attack of halfbacks Franklin Luis and Asa Porter — “A couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

“These men, except on one or two occasions, made all the way from three to ten yards at a shot,” Henry writes. “Porter made sensational runs of twenty-five to thirty yards in the early part of the game, but an injured ankle slowed him up towards the end.”

Henry reported the physical play of the right side of Arizona’s line — end Lawrence Jackson and tackles Charles Beach and William Hendry — was the force behind Porter and Luis gaining chunks of yards.

William Asa Porter

William Asa Porter


An excerpt from the 1914-15 Arizona Desert Yearbook:
“The Tigers found our line like a stonewall and even their old Battleship (Arthur Shipke) anchored at R.T. was shelled by our little demon (Ray) “Pinky” Miller, who, before the game ended, had vanquished Oxy’s pride. They even found our ends on the job and our secondary defense at all times blocking holes and returning punts like a Sid Foster and when our boys had the ball, a hole big enough to drive a wagon through opened up for (Asa) Porter’s twenty and thirty yard gains. (Franklin) Luis and Harry Turvey were also good for many yards. The game had not been under steam long when the fans realized the “cactus fed athletes” had an even break, the only outclassed department being the forward pass.”

The sides went back and forth in the first half with quick punts to establish field position. Back then, teams did not use their full set of downs. A punt was considered an attack and a way to alleviate pressure while applying it to the opponent. On many occasions, fake punts were executed to keep the defense off balance.

On one such play, “Porter made a sensational dash across the field running about seventy-five yards for a gain of thirty,” Henry writes. Arizona was forced to punt three plays later.

The first quarter came to an end as the teams struggled to a scoreless tie. Arizona started to believe it had a chance, like a challenger lasting the first three rounds against the heavyweight champ.

Tomorrow: Arizona comes close to ending the first half with a scoreless tie.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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