A look back at the 1970 Arkansas vs Wichita State game.
On October 2, 1970, a plane carrying 40 persons crashed into a mountain near Silver Plume, CO in the Rocky Mountains killing 31, including 14 WSU players, 14 members of the Wichita State family, and three crew members.
October 26, 1970
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UPI) – The official’s final gun sounded and the benches emptied. But the Arkansas Razorbacks were not heading for the dressing room. Not yet.
They raced across the astroturf, meeting the Wichita State Wheatshockers at midfield. The scoreboard showed a 62-0 Arkansas victory, a devastating defeat for the young men from Kansas.
But, Arkansas showed only respect and admiration for the tragedy-scarred Wheatshockers, a team of more than 40 freshmen and sophomores.
“They were fired up before the game and they were still fired up when it was over,” said Razorback Joe Ferguson, a reserve quarterback who threw two touchdown passes against Wichita.
“They spontaneously wanted to go over and talk with the Wichita players.” Arkansas coach Frank Broyles said Sunday. “It was the first time we ever did anything like it.”
And in the stands, 40,000 Razorback enthusiasts roared their admiration for the visiting team, another unusual sight in War Memorial stadium in which only the sounds of “Sooey, Pig” usually roar.
At the start of the game the Wichita team captain hobbled on his crutch to midfield for the pre-game coin toss. John Hoheisel had a cast on his left leg, but he was the elected captain of the Wichita State University football team and his teammates wanted him on the field for their first game since 13 players were killed in an Oct. 2 airplane crash.
“It was a funny feeling, going out on the field,” he said. “I wish I was out there playing. But, I guess I should be glad to be alive. Just after that plane crashed I didn’t think I would ever see another football game.”
Wichita started its “second season” against one of the nation’s best teams. After an Oct. 2 flaming plane crash in the Colorado Rockies killed 13 players, the school’s coach, athletic director and 15 others, the crippled Wheatshockers regrouped and fought to the final seconds.
But their inexperience- there were 10 sophomores and seven freshmen on the starting units- was too much to overcome.
Broyles had trouble in preparing for the game- “we just couldn’t get up for it because of its sympathetic nature.” But the Razorbacks knew Wichita expected no favors.
Because of the unique circumstances, Broyles said the Arkansas coaches dreaded the week before the game.
“We didn’t try to get them emotionally involved,” he said, “There were no pep talks. That would have been out of order. We just worked on blocking and tackling for Texas A&M and let the score take care of itself,” Broyles said.
“I was never more proud of our fans, our student body and our players.”
Tailback Bill Burnett, who has a chance at Steve Owens’ career touchdown record, didn’t suit out even though Broyles said he could have played.
“This game will hurt Bill Montgomery’s average and the statistics of Chuck Dicus,”
Broyles said. “Bill Burnett could have scored a couple of touchdowns but it wasn’t that kind of game.”
Bob Seaman, Wichita coach, said: “These are great people. And Coach Frank Broyles is a fine gentleman. He could have made it 150-0, but he put in the second and third teams.”
“I don’t care what that thing says,” said an Arkansas fan, looking at the scoreboard, “they didn’t lose.”
Click here: For more information on the game and crash.