A Magical Season: 40 Years Later, IU Honors the Cardiac Kids

    Go Hoosiers! Harry Gonso led the 1967 Hoosiers to a 9-1 regular season and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Harry Gonso led the 1967 Hoosiers to a 9-1 regular season and a berth in the Rose Bowl.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Nov. 14, 2007

    This Saturday, Indiana Football will honor members of the 1967 football team that earned the only Rose Bowl berth in school history. Over 50 players and all living coaches will be in attendance for the Indiana-Purdue game, leading the team in The Walk and being recognized at halftime. In tribute to the 1967 squad, Assistant Athletics Director for Game Management Kit Klingelhoffer offers a look back at the Cardiac Kids' magical season.

    Has it really been 40 years?

    To some, it may seem like yesterday, that magical 1967 football season when an unheralded Indiana football team, a 1-8-1 team in 1966, came from out of nowhere. The `Cardiac Kids' of Coach John Pont, winning game after game, some in unbelievable fashion, capped by an improbable 19-14 win over Purdue that gave the Hoosiers a share of the Big Ten Championship and their only Rose Bowl trip in history.

    Has it really been 40 years? Well, it has, and today IU celebrates that '67 team with a reunion weekend that is sure to rekindle the many magical memories of a season unlike any other in IU history.

    There was optimism heading into the '67 season, but no more than exists at the beginning of any year. As John Pont looked at his team in the spring, his biggest challenge and decision involved quarterback - who would emerge as the starter among the competition between sophomores Harry Gonso and John Isenbarger. Pont and staff settled on Gonso, but Pont reasoned the talented Isenbarger had to be on the field, and he became the starting tailback.

    The other foundation that was laid was switching two-year starting offensive tackle - and captain -- Doug Crusan to defense - a move that paid off handsomely and solidified a unit that was one of the Big Ten's best.

    That's what some people forget. With all the comeback victories, many of the heroics were heaped upon Gonso, Isenbarger and wide receive Jade Butcher. But it was the steadfast defense, which allowed only 14 points per outing, that kept the Hoosiers in most every game and paved the way for the offense to grab the headlines.



    Maybe it's best to review the season game-by game. Which of these moments do you remember best?

    Indiana 12, Kentucky 10: It was 10-0 Kentucky at halftime, but two Gonso TD passes in the second half, the last in the fourth quarter to tight end Al Gage, gave the Hoosiers an opening-day victory.

    Indiana 18, Kansas 15: It was 8-8 at the half and 15-15 at the end of three - Dave Kornowa's 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter won it.

    Indiana 20, Illinois 7: The Hoosiers won their first road game despite totaling only 12 first downs and 189 yards of offense. Offensive tackle Rick Spickard recovered a fumble in the end zone for one score and linebacker Ken Kaczmarek returned an intercepted pass 26 yards for another.

    Indiana 21, Iowa 17: Down 17-14 late in the fourth quarter, holder Gonso ran for a first down on a fake field goal attempt and then threw a 4-yard TD pass to Butcher for the winning score.

    Indiana 27, Michigan 20: IU led 20-zip before Michigan came back to tie. Isenbarger's second touchdown of the day again won it in the fourth quarter.

    Indiana 42, Arizona 7: The only blowout win of the season happened in the Arizona desert. IU had 435 yards of offense and relied on reserve quarterback Mike Perry after Gonso was injured. Perry threw for a TD and ran for a pair of two-point conversions. Defensive back Nate Cunningham had a 55-yard interception return for a TD.

    Indiana 14, Wisconsin 9: The winless Badgers almost ruined IU's unbeaten season and Homecoming game, but a last-play pass from the IU-10 yard line sailed over a wide open receiver in the end zone to give the Hoosiers victory number seven.

    Indiana 14, Michigan State 13: Down 13-7, the Hoosiers again demonstrated their resolve, marching nearly 80 yards for the winning score late in the game, capped by Isenbarger's one-yard run and Kornowa's extra point kick.

    Minnesota 33, Indiana 7: Finally, no breaks. A 20-point fourth quarter broke open a close game and the Gophers - who shared a piece of the conference crown - prevailed.

    Indiana 19, Purdue 14: IU was a two-touchdown underdog - at home. A Gonso-to-Butcher TD pass put IU up early and Mike Krivoshia had a 2-yard TD run to put IU ahead 13-7. Terry Cole, whose 48-yard run set up one TD, ran up the middle for 63 yards and another score to make it 19-7 at halftime. Purdue got within 19-14 and had a first down on the IU 3-yard line late, when Kaczmarek hit Purdue's Perry Williams and the ensuing fumble was recovered by safety Mike Baughman. On to the Rose Bowl!

    Southern Cal 14, Indiana 3: A fellow by the name of O.J. Simpson ran for 125 and two touchdowns. IU's lone score was on Kornowa's 27-field goal.

    Yes, it was a magical season for the Cardiac Kids. And 40 years later their legend still remains.


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