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CATCH UP ON THE COUNTDOWN BY VISITING: ARIZONA’S TOP 100 INDIVIDUAL RECORDS
Only seven days — one week from today — separate us from the start of Rich Rodriguez’s fifth season, when the Arizona Wildcats football team plays Brigham Young on Sept. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
As is customary on this Web site, we will count down the days with an interesting element associated with each day. This year the topic is the top 100 individual records in Arizona’s storied football past.
In past years, we have counted down the top games and highlighted players and some of the top plays in Arizona Wildcats football history. A couple of years ago in our top 100 countdown, we showcased the 1914 team that was responsible for Arizona becoming the “Wildcats”.
Back to this year’s countdown of the top 100 individual records in the 117 years of Arizona football:
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Art Luppino’s unbeatable school-record of 38 yards per carry against New Mexico State in 1954 occurred with only six carries (for 228 yards), which falls just short of NCAA-record requirements.
OTHER ARIZONA AVERAGE PER GAIN MARKS IN A GAME
Min. 10 carries: 16.0 yards, Trung Canidate, vs. ASU, Nov. 27, 1998 (18 for 288)
Min. 20 carries: 14.6, Ka’Deem Carey, vs. Colorado, Nov. 10, 2012 (25 for 366)
Highest Average Gain Per Rush, Game: 38.0 yards, Art Luppino, vs. New Mexico St., Sept. 18, 1954 (6 attempts for 228 yards)
Pac-12 record: (Min. 10 attempts) 25.7 yards, Jerry Drew, Cal, vs. Oregon State, Nov. 13, 1954 (11 attempts for 283 yards); (Min. 20 attempts) 14.8 yards, Hugh McElhenny, Washington, vs. Washington State, Nov. 25, 1950 (20 for 296)
NCAA record: (Min. 10 attempts) 30.20 yards, Kevin Lowe, Wyoming vs. South Dakota State, Nov. 10, 1984 (10 for 302); (Min. 15 attempts) 21.44, Tony Jeffery, TCU vs. Tulane, Sept. 13, 1986 (16 for 343); (Min. 25 attempts) 16.32, Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, Nov. 15, 2014 (25 for 408)
Video of Arizona playing Idaho in 1954 about a month after Art Luppino (shown in 22 in the dark uniforms with the Wildcats) ran rampant against New Mexico State at Arizona Stadium
The “Cactus Comet”, as Arizona Sports Hall of Famer Art Luppino was called, came on to the college football scene in a big way gaining 228 yards on only six carries in his first collegiate start at halfback.
Luppino, 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, ran for five touchdowns, four of them from scrimmage in the season-opener for the Wildcats.
He also returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to start the second half. He could have rushed for more yards but sat most of the second half because of the disparity of the score.
Luppino, whose No. 22 jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony in 1999, held the single-game rushing record of 228 yards for 19 years until Jim Upchurch gained 232 yards against UTEP in 1973. Luppino’s 38 yards per rush against New Mexico A&M (now New Mexico State) remains a school record that likely will never be beaten.
His 21 rushing touchdowns in 1954 and 44 in his career remained school records until Ka’Deem Carey broke both marks in 2013. Luppino also holds the school record with the 32 points against New Mexico A&M in the 1954 game and 166 points that season.
In the 1954 record-setting performance against the hapless Aggies, Luppino, a sophomore in 1954 from La Jolla, Calif., did his damage by five minutes into the third quarter.
Arizona Republic clipping of Art Luppino in his record-setting historic night in 1954.
Previous school records produced by the “Cactus Comet” listed in this countdown:
32. Most Points Scored, Season: 166, 1954 (24 TDs, 22 extra-points kicking and rushing)
40. Most Points Scored, Game: 32, vs. New Mexio State, Sept. 18, 1954 (5 rushing touchdowns, 2 extra points)
50. Most Touchdowns Scored, Season: 24 in 1954; Ka’Deem Carey, 2012
59. Touchdowns Scored, Game: 5 vs. New Mexico St., 1954; Ka’Deem Carey, vs. Colorado, 2012
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.