The Arizona Daily Star sports front page on Oct. 30, 1932, announces NAU’s football win over a favored University of Arizona team. The “northern team” won after faking the extra-point kick and passing for a conversion, which was good for one point in those days.

Election buzz gripped Pima County. Steinfeld’s boasted a major sale: $5 dresses and $11.50 winter coats. The Fox Theatre offered a respite from the Tucson heat: “Grand Hotel,” starring John Barrymore and Greta Garbo, was on the big screen.

But the big story in the Oct. 30, 1932, Arizona Daily Star was college football. One day earlier, Northern Arizona State Teachers College (now NAU) stunned the Arizona Wildcats 7-6 in Phoenix.

The last time the Lumberjacks beat the Wildcats was a (long) lifetime ago. Babies born on that sunny Saturday afternoon would be nearly 83 years old today. Those younger than that know only UA wins: The UA has defeated NAU 11 consecutive times since that day by a total of 327 points. The teams will meet again Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

Here’s a look at how NAU managed to pull off the upset 83 years ago:

How it read

“The Northern Arizona State Teachers college Lumberjacks upset the dopesters tonight to defeat a heavily favorite University of Arizona eleven 7 to 6. Two aerial thrusts, the only successful ones by the northerners, paved the way for their winning touchdown. Another pass resulted in the extra point.”

— Arizona Daily Star (Oct. 30, 1932)

What went down

Quarterback “Mutt” Ford led Flagstaff on a fourth-quarter drive to secure the 7-6 win. Ford’s two completions — his first of the day — allowed the northerners to tie the game; they took the lead, and the win, on a fake PAT completion from Earl “Jiggs” Insley to left end Russell Jackson that went for one point.

“Insley lined up for a place-kick, but crossed the Wildcats by passing over the line into Jackson’s outstretched arms,” the Star reported.

Turning point

Ford connected with Jackson on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line to even the game. The quarterback “faded back and hurled a short toss to Jackson, who took it and was tackled as he reached the goal line. He lunged over the line into Jackson’s oustretched arms,” the Star reported.

The shoddy performance in Phoenix incensed the Star’s Chuck Kinter, who declared in his “Chuck Wagon” column that “the Salt River valley seems to be a jinx to the University of Arizona football teams when it comes to winning victories.”

“Their last four starts on fields near Phoenix, Ariz., has received three thumpings,” he wrote. “On two occasions, the Cats were favorites to win.”

Coach A.W. Farwick’s team lost more than it won in 1932, finishing 4-5. Flagstaff went 3-2-2 under coach Rudy Lavik.

It’s history

NAU English professor Mary Hill was so impressed with the upset win that she commissioned a 25-pound, custom-forged copper ax to commemorate it. The ax remains housed in the Cline Library on NAU’s Flagstaff campus.

#ThisIsTucson is member-supported. Your contribution helps our team bring you stories that keep you connected to the community. Become a member today.