By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
You win some, you lose some. When it comes to University of Hawaii football, several of the most memorable games were losses. Hawaii’s narrow lose to BYU in 1984, for example, was heart-wrenching. The Rainbow Warriors’ first-ever Sugar Bowl berth, as historical as it was, turned out to be crushing defeat.
Another, lesser-known example is Hawaii’s 34-31 nationally televised loss at the hands of the Temple Owls in 1979. It was game that stellar UH running back Gary Allen will always remember – for good and bad reasons.
November 3, 1979: Some 33,000 fans flocked to Aloha Stadium for a rare early afternoon contest. The 6-1 Owls arrived in the Islands as the heavy favorite. Their starting QB, Brian Broomell, entered the contest with the country’s top passer efficiency rating. And from the outset, it appeared Temple was going to dominate the home team, racing out to a 24-7 lead midway through the second quarter. Hawaii’s lone score came on a David Toloumu 1-yard burst into the end zone.
Then Hawaii unleashed Gary Allen.
With just over six minutes remaining in the first half, UH QB Mike Stennis pitched the ball to the sophomore tailback, who scampered around the left side, then changed direction and sped down the right sideline for an electrifying 77-yard score. Then with under a minute left before halftime, Broomell mishandled the snap and Hawaii free safety pounced on the ball. Jim Asmus booted a 45-yard field goal to pull UH within 7.
Hawaii tied the score at 24 apiece late in the third quarter, when Allen caught a short pass from Stennis and raced past Owl defenders for a 32-yard TD. Temple’s bruising fullback, Mark Bright, responded with a 17-yard scoring run of his own to give his team the lead again, 31-24.
Allen struck again early in the fourth, this time breaking through the left side of the scrimmage line and racing 55 yards for another score. The 5-9, 170-lb. back would finish the game with 141 rushing yards (his fourth consecutive 100-yard effort) and 91 receiving yards. Allen even fired a 17-yard pass completion. Everything was going right for him.
Until, suddenly, it wasn’t.
Late in the game, with the score tied at 31, Hawaii had possession and was attempting one final scoring drive. Allen took a handoff and fumbled, and Temple’s Guy Peters recovered the ball for a costly UH turnover. Then, with just 19 seconds remaining in the game, Owl placekicker Ron Fioravanti drilled a 31-yard field goal to give the visitors the win.
Fioravanti, who is now a chief deputy sheriff in Wilmington, Delaware, recalled after the game that head coach Wayne Hardin instructed him to aim for the First Hawaiian Bank advertisement on the stadium scoreboard. The ad slogan was, “The Bank that Says Yes.”
“Coach told me to aim for the ‘Yes,’” Fioravanti told reporters.
For the Rainbow Warriors and their growing legion of fans, it was a disappointing end to a thrilling game.
”This was the toughest loss we’ve ever had, by far,” UH head coach Dick Tomey said during the postgame interviews. “We’ve got great kids on our team. We played as hard and as long as we could, and we just came up a little short.”