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Report From The Field - Tech vs OSU

I was able to make the trip to Lubbock and take in the game on Halloween.

I really wanted to make a trip out to Lubbock this year and see a game at The Jones, as I hadn't been able to in quite a few years. When the schedule came out, I picked this weekend, partly because I didn't want to sit in the heat of September, and the Halloween game in Lubbock usually provides some incredible theatricality. I also figured the game would be at night, but that sure didn't pan out. Regardless of the game time, I was looking forward to a fun atmosphere in Lubbock.

After driving through multiple weather events Friday night just to get to Lubbock, I had a good feeling about things. The city seemed active, even for a college town on a Friday, the line at Cricket's was way out the door and there was no parking anywhere. It seemed to be a good omen, at least in my mind. The fans would be ready to come out and bring The Jones back to life, and create more Halloween magic from years past.

I was able to get to campus early enough to walk through a bit and wander over to Cricket's for some pregame beverages with our good friend Hunter. The place was rather packed already by noon, with lots of excitement in the air, and it seemed like we were all anxious and ready for kickoff. I headed over to the stadium around 1:00, and it felt like a lot of fans had the same idea. I noticed when I got to the stadium that several people were wearing stickers that had an orange ribbon with #StillwaterStrong on it. The closer I got, I realized everybody had one on. It seemed like the people handing the stickers out couldn't hand them out fast enough. It was a great sign to see the Tech community unite for a great cause, as the Tech fan base has had a reputation for being very passionate, but not very kind to other teams. The athletic department and university had made a strong gesture the night before, and I was hoping it would continue all game.

I got into the stadium around an hour before kickoff and I noticed it was rather empty, even for being that early. Some of the OSU team was warming up on the field, but a short while later the majority came out of the tunnel and something happened that I don't believe I'd ever witnessed at the Jones. All the saddle tramps, most of the students, and a good majority of the fans stood up with their Guns Up high in the air. There wasn't a single boo that I could hear. I was shocked, but pleasantly so. The respect for the Cowboys and their community continued into the pregame festivities. After a moment of silence, the stadium turned orange again, with the video board showing the image it had the previous night. The OSU band played their alma mater and every Tech fan that I could see had their hand back up and the whole stadium was SILENT. The only sound that could be heard was of their band. I don;t know if I've ever been more proud of the university and its fans. If you were there at the game I thank you for showing true class.

Once the game started it felt like the fans were ready to erupt. A decent Raider Power chant started just before kickoff and everyone was ready for a great start, especially after we elected to receive. However, there was a glaring problem. It was Halloween afternoon, the weather was great, and an undefeated team was playing at The Jones. Yet the game wasn't sold out. The upper deck sections in the two northern corners of the stadium were almost empty,and the announced attendance was below expectations. There is no reason why fans shouldn't have come out for this game. I can understand not wanting to see Sam Houston St or UTEP in the hot afternoons of the early part of the season, but this was different. Tech has an exciting, if sometimes frustrating, team to watch, and you never know what might happen on Halloween. I expected better from the fans.

The game started quick and the fans in my section stood up for the entire first drive (not that it took that long), but once the defense came out, the stadium got quiet, and most people sat down, even on third down. This may be due to the fact that the defense had been rather porous this year, but for all the people claiming the team only cares about offense, it sure felt like the fans had the same point of view. There were eruptions when Jakeem did what he does best, and throughout the game whenever he got the ball, you could feel the excitement that only comes out when an elite playmaker gets into the play on the field.

There were a couple moments of confusion during the first half for the fans in attendance, one being the dropped backwrds pass/bounce pass that resulted in an OSU touchdown, and the other being the targeting call on Johnson. I spoke to several people who didn't understand either play, or the review and ejection rule, but once the call was upheld, heavy boos rained down upon the field. As Johnson ran off to the locker room, a loud cheer erupted in support of him, but it really felt like the team never responded after that. The halftime show was fantastic as usual, with a great halloween theme and the costume contest was well received by fans (even though Tinder Profile Man really deserved something)

The third quarter really seemed to drain the fans, as it was rather dull in the beginning, and things started to go south on the scoreboard. A large portion left with about 5 minutes remaining, and the majority left with only a minute or so to go. It has always been my personal stance to never leave the game early, no matter the score or whatever the weather is doing. You should always stay to sing The Matador Song, and support your university, whether you are a casual fan, student, or alumni. Overall, it was a good experience at the game, and the team definitely showed it has the pieces to be a formidable team, but isn't quite there yet. Guns Up and Long Live The Matadors!!!