The Games

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): “Wild-Cats” claw New Mexico State’s banner down



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General history
J.F. “Pop” McKale
The games
Comparisons then and now
Wildcats nickname
Military service


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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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Arizona came into the New Mexico State “Aggies” game with a 2-1 record, a proven dominance in the state over Tempe Normal and Douglas YMCA and a hard-fought loss to Occidental, which ultimately gave them their “Wildcat” nickname.

Now, in order to be considered the “Champions of the Southwest”, Arizona had to go on and defeat both New Mexico State (which was known as New Mexico Agricultural then) on Nov. 14, 1914, and Pomona on Thanksgiving Day. Both games were played in Tucson. Arizona’s only road game in 1914 was against Occidental.

The New Mexico State win proved to be another battle but Asa Porter came through in the second half with a drop kick from 35 yards out and a touchdown to give the “Varsity” a 10-0 victory. The victory came at a cost as Bill Hendry injured his back and Lawrence “Jack” Jackson broke his left arm falling on a ball.


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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.
( graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

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On This Date in 1914

Fri., June 19, 1914

The Mexican revolution, led by Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, intensified as Villa and his men continued their march toward Mexico City to oust dictator Porfirio Díaz. Villa issued this statement to the Associated Press on June 19, 1914: “We will fight the enemy of our people and his minions until we have completely vanquished them. After that has been accomplished you may rest assured that all Mexican patriots will do their duty shoulder to shoulder and work for the good of all.”


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Asa Porter's 35-yard drop kick and touchdown were responsible for Arizona's 10-0 win at New Mexico State on Nov. 14, 1914 (Arizona Life student newspaper)

Asa Porter’s 35-yard drop kick and touchdown were responsible for Arizona’s 10-0 win over New Mexico State on Nov. 14, 1914 (Arizona Life student newspaper)

“Arizona Life” was the student newspaper of the day and it described Jackson as, “Playing on Varsity for three years and is a valuable man on the line, never playing to grandstand – he gets there every time. . . . Hendry, our best tackle, will be missed when we face that hungry Pomona line. Hendry is playing his best college football this year and is making good.”

The editorial of the game used the actual “Wild-Cats” nickname in describing the victory and in preparing the student body for the game against Pomona:

“For three consecutive seasons, the Crimson players have triumphed over the husky Arizonans. But alas! Mr. Crimson, the Wild-Cats have clawed your banner down. The Red and Blue 1914 banner painted 10 to 0 has covered the 1911 (loss) of 3-0.

This was the first real fight the Student Body has seen this season. The rooting was great but the whole Student Body was not there to claim the victory. The downtown section was equal in numbers to the student section. Thanks Mr. Business Man and your rooting was great.

The game Saturday is a big victory for Arizona and was won by the fight that can be expected to win the turkey-day battle. You can depend upon it that the coach will see that the Wild-Cats are fed on raw meat until the day of the big battle.

The spirit of the Wild-Cats as shown at Oxy will be upon the gridiron.”

New Mexico State entered the game on a four-game winning streak and 4-1 record overall. The Aggies dominated the three previous games against Arizona by a combined score of 36-13 before J.F. “Pop” McKale took over the program in 1914. 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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