This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s cliff-hanger.
please keep in mind I have been up for 29 hours at the time of writing…it might be terrible, or brilliant
The adventure began immediately after the last keystroke of yesterday’s post. Much in the same way most adventures do, this required planning to work. First was directions, which did nothing except confirm that it would in fact take four and a half hours to drive…one way. Neither my wife, nor I had been to Virginia Tech and so our new Nav-system would be earning its keep for the next 500 miles. Step one of planning, complete.
Next was the weather report…damn. A line of storm cells, some a lot more red than others was creeping its way through Tennessee and was directly on course with Blacksburg. If we didn’t get rained completely out of the game, we were definitely going to get wet. I’ve been wet, before. Training exercises where there is no possible place to gain shelter from storms are no stranger to those of us in the military, but we come prepared. I dug out two rain-resistant (never rain-proof) ponchos and stuck them in a bag, along with a change of clothes for the drive home and my most comfortable pair of flip-flops. While I can take getting wet, I hate being soaked. We were ready for the elements, phase two of planning, check.
Thanks to a fast day at the hospital, Samantha made it home around 1:30. Perfectly fitting into my plan of being on the road by two. It took a little coaxing, ensuring that the rain wouldn’t ruin the night (a promise I had no intentions of keeping) before I was able to load her into the car and get on the road.
To say it rained would be an insult to rain. Traffic slowed to a paltry 35 mph, on I-77. Luckily, we pushed through and were able to make it to Blacksburg around 6:00.
Once we made it to our seats, it didn’t take long to spot the guys you see at every game, including our favorite: drunk alumni who knows all the traditions and is belligerently suggesting that you should, too. Seen here photo-bombing this shot of the field:
As pregame began, we were pretty impressed with two things in-particular: 1) The obscene amount of cadets at VaTech.
And 2) FIREWORKS.
Something, I apparently was not tracking, was how much “Enter Sandman” means to these people. I received a text from my good friend Chuck asking, “Did Enter Sandman give you chills, or what?”
I thought about it, and no, it didn’t. My two seasons at Oklahoma State was enough to show me what a real, big-time football environment could be like. So as special as this was for the Hokie Nation, I took it an and appreciated it, but wasn’t moved.
Now that we were settled in, our eyes were to the sky. After sprinkles and warnings by nearby fans and old men in ponchos…nothing came. I can honestly say we were beyond lucky.
A few game notes from the stands: Hokies, I love that you all point your arm like the ref when you get a first down, but if the team is moving south down the field, and you are in the south endzone, don’t point to the north…that means you turned the ball over. Also, I was a little confused by the fanning-motion you make when the other team is about to kick a field goal or punt…are you fanning the ball so it changes direction? Are you, yourself, attempting to block it? Perhaps in the speed of the game, the defense has forgotten the fundamentals of shooting his hands to take the ball off of the kicker’s foot? Either way, it’s weird.
Finally, perhaps the most lasting memory I’ll have of my trip to Lane Stadium is what I’m dubbing “The Redzone Song”. The one that goes a little something like this, “oh. OHH. Ohhhhh. Stick it in. Stick it in. Stick it in!” I wanted a t-shirt, but my wife wouldn’t let me. Not because of the innuendo, but because they were crimson-like and orange. Two colors, going back to the OU/OSU rivalry that, in her opinion, should never be mixed.
Finally, the epic conclusion of the game.
terrible defensive quarters of football, we were wearing down. The impending drive home, and the constant thought of rain was taking its toll. After a penalty got GT inside FG range, they were able to take a 10-7 lead. However, a couple of great plays later VaTech connected on a long touchdown pass to go ahead 14-10. With only minutes left, I felt like I had seen enough. What happened next is justified as follows:
- Three quarters, no offense, terrible play all around.
- I have no emotional connection to either one of these teams.
- We had a 4 and a half hour drive, and it was pushing 11pm.
- The bottom could have literally fallen out of the sky at any second.
Our time had come, and we quietly pushed past the people in our row while they stood to cheer the touchdown to take the Hokies up 14-10 and made our way toward the exit. One final moment seemed too perfect to miss though, we knew VT would win and captured the moment together with my favorite addition to Lane, the fireworks.
Almost five hours later, we walked in to our apartment just outside of Fort Bragg, I prepared myself for the day as she laid down to catch a nap before work. An hour later, around 5am, I was at work. A work out and a full day before me and as I type, I remember Samantha’s words.