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Dick Moser (or was it Bill?) made Lobo history

Before and after his brief career at the University of New Mexico, Bill Moseley was a standout at the University of Kentucky. Here, he poses for a publicity shot in his UK uniform. COURTESY OF WILLIE MOSELEY

By any other name – and, yes, as you’ll see, there were others – Bill Moseley made an indelible mark on University of New Mexico football.

To this day, he and his alter ego(s) are the only Lobos to catch two touchdown passes in a bowl game.

It was August 1945, and World War II had just ended. But Moseley, an Alabama native and a former (and future) University of Kentucky football player, still had an Air Force hitch to serve out.

Stationed at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque as a B-29 gunner, Moseley found himself drawn to the UNM practice field. He discovered that several active-duty servicemen were on the roster. He decided to sign up for a couple of classes and join the team.

But what would happen, he wondered, to his eligibility if he decided later to resume his career at Kentucky?

Just that simply, Dick/Bill/even Dock Moser was born.

The story of Moseley’s double/triple Lobo life has been told before. Moseley related it in 2007 to his hometown paper, the Montgomery Advertiser. His son, Willie, a journalist, wrote an article that year for the UNM Alumni Magazine.

But the story got new life this year, its 75th anniversary, thanks to a July 19 feature article in the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader.

And so:

In his 2014 memoir, “Forever Blue,” Moseley – who died the following year at age 92 – wrote that the subterfuge began when an Albuquerque sports writer asked him his name. Moseley mumbled something in response.

“Did you say Dick Moser?” The reporter asked.

Sure, why not?

“I didn’t think I was doing anything underhanded,” Moseley wrote in his memoir, “but I wanted to play it safe, so I didn’t point out or complain about the erroneous names or facts that appeared in print. If my identity stayed muddled, so much the better.”

Yet, it was not Dick Moser but quarterback Bill Moser who caught those two TD passes for the Lobos in their 34-24 victory over the University of Denver in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Day 1946.

Yes, it was the same guy. No, he didn’t throw the ball to himself. Moser/Moseley was a quarterback yes, but in a single-wing offense.

In the single wing, the quarterback called the signals but only occasionally touched the ball. Typically lining up behind a guard or tackle, the QB did more blocking than anything else – rarely if ever carrying the ball but sometimes getting involved in the passing game.

It was the tailback, for the ’45 Lobos, a 19-year-old Navy reservist from Illinois named Don Rumley, who threw the ball when called upon to do so.

And so, on a warm, sunny afternoon (thank you, Farmer’s Almanac) in El Paso, Moser/Moseley hauled in fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 37 and 47 yards from Rumley. The Lobos, trailing 17-13 after three quarters, blitzed the Pioneers with three fourth-quarter TDs.

Worth mentioning: The Lobos’ other fourth-quarter touchdown came on a 28-yard pass from Rumley to end Lavon McDonald, a future UNM athletic director.

But, wait – was it Lavon, Bob or Julio McDonald? Though there was only one McDonald on the 1945 roster, he was referenced by all three of those names at different times during the season. In his 2014 memoir, Moseley calls him “Julio.” A UNM roster for the Texas Tech game, published in “Forever Blue,” lists him that way.

Names, it seems, were a cheap commodity back then.

By any name and any standard, the 1945 New Mexico Lobos were among the most successful teams in program history. The only blemishes in a 6-1-1 campaign came in back-to-back late-season games against Utah (a 21-20 loss) and Texas Tech (a 6-6 tie).

Of interest: New Mexico and New Mexico State, then New Mexico A&M, did not meet that season. They hadn’t met since 1942; because of the war, the Aggies played only four games in ’43 and did not field a team in ’44-45.

The star of stars on the 1945 Lobos was fullback Rudy Krall, a Notre Dame transfer. A two-time all-Border Conference selection, Krall scored UNM’s first touchdown in that Sun Bowl game on a 65-yard pass interception.

Krall made his home in Albuquerque after college and was inducted into the UNM Alumni Lettermen’s Hall of Honor in 2002. He died in 2016 at age 91.

Lou Cullen, who alternated with Krall at fullback, was a UNM assistant coach under Bob Titchenal, Dick Clausen and Marv Levy from 1954-59.

Rumley, the passing tailback, also ran for a touchdown in the second quarter of the ’46 Sun Bowl. He appeared on his way to a legendary UNM career before suffering an ankle injury late in the 1946 season. He never returned.

But, then, was Don Rumley his real name?

Just kidding.

Rumley, a native of Princeton, Illinois, joined the Navy out of high school. He’d played one game at Central Missouri State before being transferred to Albuquerque. He played no more football after the ’46 season, according to news archives, but went into coaching in Ohio and later in Illinois.

In March 1962, it was reported that Rumley had been relieved of his duties as the Tuscola (Illinois) High School basketball coach after kicking a photographer.

And there was McDonald, UNM’s athletic director from 1974-79. McDonald was the man most responsible for securing for Albuquerque the 1983 NCAA Final Four, but – with the Lobogate scandal brewing – was fired. When the ’83 Final Four finally arrived, McDonald didn’t even have a ticket.

Now, back to Dick/Dock/Bill Moser/Moseley. Though Moseley did not write this in his book, it appears his UNM career consisted of just four games.

He’s first mentioned in the Journal archives for having recovered a fumbled punt during a 12-6 victory over Colorado on Nov. 3. On that occasion, he’s referred to – presumably a typo – as Dock Moser and as playing as a Lobo for the first time.

In the loss to Utah, Dick Moser was credited as a defensive back with a tackle that forestalled a Utah touchdown.

Dick Moser had a 12-yard pass reception and made at least one tackle during the tie with Texas Tech, a game during which he injured a knee – leaving his Sun Bowl participation in doubt. But in the Dec. 22 Journal, it was reported he’d healed up and was ready to go.

It was not Dick but Bill Moser, though, who caught the two touchdown passes against Denver.

In his book, Moseley wrote that he planned to return to UNM in the fall of 1946 – until he didn’t. He was in line with Cullen to register for classes, he wrote, when he changed his mind.

Returning instead to Kentucky, he played with distinction for coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s first two Wildcats teams in 1946-47. He then went into coaching, first at Lanier High School (his alma mater) in Montgomery, then as a UK assistant.

And it turned out he needn’t have played the name game. Though his playing career spanned six autumns (1942-47), wartime eligibility adjustments allowed for such things. He played only the permitted four seasons, three at Kentucky, one at UNM.

Besides, his Kentucky past was really no secret during his brief Lobo career. A December 1945 story by Albuquerque Tribune reporter George Baldwin made reference to his 1942 freshman season at UK, as did an anonymous Associated Press reporter in a story published by the Clovis News Journal.

Most of Moseley’s book, as one might gather from the title, deals with his playing and coaching career at Kentucky. And yet, in the Herald-Leader story, Willie Moseley speculates that his dad’s fondest football memory might have been those two TD pass receptions for the Lobos in the Sun Bowl victory.

As for the name game, Moseley told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2007 that he’d been uncomfortable with the whole thing.

“I wish I hadn’t done it,” he said. “But I just didn’t know (about potential eligibility concerns).”

By 2014, though, he seemed to have made peace with it all.

“I don’t,” he wrote, “regret playing it safe.”

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