Wichita State may no longer have a football team, but it does still have its place in the NCAA record book.
Joe Williams is still tied for the longest field goal kicked in a college football game with his 67-yard boot as time expired in a 33-7 victory over Southern Illinois at Cessna Stadium on October 21, 1978.
As the 40th anniversary nears, Williams, 61, enjoyed reminiscing from his home in Ocean Springs, Miss., about the kick that landed him in the record books.
“The wind was in my favor and we got a good hold down and I knocked the hell out of it and it went through by six or seven yards,” Williams said. “I instantly went from a nobody to a somebody after that kick went through. It put me on the map as far as the NFL goes.”
What is often forgotten is that WSU could have run out the clock, safe with a 30-7 lead in the final seconds. But coach Jim Wright was persuaded on the sideline by the players to give Williams a shot to make history.
Williams still feels indebted to Wright for calling the timeout with 6 seconds left to attempt the kick.
“All of my buddies on the team were harassing him to give me a shot and he decided to call the timeout, kind of like ‘Go make a fool of yourself if you want,’ “ Williams said. “It would have been easy for him to let the clock run out and shake hands, but I still thank him for giving a young man the opportunity to accomplish something.”
Williams said that the kick generated enough interest for him to get a training camp invitation from the Seattle Seahawks after graduating from WSU in 1980. He played in one preseason game, making both of his extra-point attempts.
He was invited to training camps for the next several years, but never latched onto an NFL roster. Williams has since opened his own business, Solar Control, a window-tinting service in Ocean Springs.
In the late 1970s, when Williams and two other kickers converted 67-yard field goals, kickers were allowed to boot field goals off tees during games. Their success prompted the NCAA to change the rule before the 1989 season. The farthest kick since was 65 yards by Kansas State’s Martin Gramatica in 1998.