Note: Each Thursday throughout football season, we will be taking a look at a historical event, team or person relating to college football. This week, we throwback to 1994 when Hawaii traveled to California.
Almost 22 years ago, Hawaii prepared to face the California for the second cosecutive year. College football fans across the country deemed the Golden Bears to be winners before the game began, referencing Hawaii’s 6-6 record from the year before as their reasoning. In comparison to Cal’s 9-4 record the previous year and the defeat Hawaii faced at home to the Bears in 1993, it is an understandable assumption. However, on Sept. 17, 1994, the Rainbow Warriors defeated California 21-7.
Today, the Rainbow Warriors prepare to face the Golden Bears for the first time since that 1994 match up in the college football season opener, and it looks like similar chatter surrounds the game. But, what happened during that 1994 game?
“Maybe University of California football coach Keith Gilbertson should have simply shielded his eyes. In retrospect, there was no need to watch his team's ugly 21-7 loss to Hawaii,” wrote Ron Kroichick for the McClatchy News Service in his report on the game.
Cal posted the first scoring play of the game with 2:32 left in the first quarter. After a botched punt by Hawaii, the Bears marched their way into the red zone, and running back Reynard Rutherford rushed for a single yard to score the touchdown. Rutherford was Cal’s leader for rushing yards in 1994, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. A versatile player who was also an a receiving option, he had 27 receptions in 1994 as well. However, against Hawaii’s defense that moved “with all the fury of giant waves crashing into Waikiki Beach,” Rutherford was stopped, and the offense failed to post more points.
Early into the second quarter after the Bears had been sent back 20 penalty yards due to holding, Cal’s kicker Ryan Longwell put up a 55-yard punt, according to Mercury News staff writer Ron Bergman. However, the Bears received another holding penalty and had to re-do the punt on a fourth-and-47 at Cal’s 26. Hawaii wide receiver Matthew Harding blocked the re-punt, and Khary Williams nabbed the ball and took off for the goal line, scoring the tying touchdown with a 20-yard return.
At this point, the roughly 41,000 fans in Cal’s Memorial Stadium commenced booing and mock-cheering the Bears, according to Kroichick.
According to The Associated Press’s Dennis Georgatos, Hawaii’s defensive back Robby Blakeney broke through the middle, blocking another one of Longwell’s punts early on in the third quarter. Harding seized the ball at the Cal 16 and made a run to score untouched, putting Hawaii in the lead, 14-7.
Longwell seemed to have a rough game that day, also missing two field goals of 25 and 37 yards. But that was not Cal’s only issue of the day.
The Bears’ quarterback Dave Barr was sacked eight times and threw an interception while completing 25 passes out of 42 for 277 yards. Also, Cal was penalized seven times for more than 80 yards.
''The only thing positive,'' Barr said to Bergman, ''is no one died in that game.''
However, according to Kroichick, the Bears’ defense played marvelously, only allowing a single true offensive touchdown.
''It's always been a dream of mine to beat Cal here,'' said Hawaii’s quarterback Rodney Glover to Bergman, ''because they didn't recruit me as a quarterback, but as a defensive back. I wanted to be a Cal Bear all my life, I guess, but they wanted to change my position.''
And in the fourth quarter, Glover showed Cal what he could do as a quarterback, scrambling for 54 yards on a single play that brought Hawaii to the red zone. From there, Glover ran for a single yard into the end zone with 5:10 remaining in the game, confirming Hawaii’s win.
While many years have passed since this game, fans may still wonder what the rematch will look like. Some say that with Hawaii’s 3-10 2015 record, it is unlikely that it will defeat Cal, similar to what fans said in 1994. However, history may repeat itself.
Night before the night before. Helmets ready pic.twitter.com/eLUtyNLAn2— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) August 25, 2016
Keep up with what happens at the rematch on Friday, Aug. 26 at 10 p.m. ET by visiting the NCAA GameCenter.