Sunday, September 02, 2007
How I Spent My Saturday
If you can't read the score, it's Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 and the game has just ended!
What a way to spend a Saturday…
Yesterday a group of boys from the hills of North Carolina invaded Michigan and got revenge for the South’s loss at Gettysburg. And I was there to watch it all!
On Friday, my daughter and I picked up Uncle L and his daughter at the airport. Uncle L had been excited about the possibility of his alma mater, Appalachian State University, playing the University of Michigan and as soon as the game was announced last winter, he began making plans to travel up here for the game. So yesterday morning, we all got up in the predawn hours for the two our trip to Ann Arbor, arriving there at 8 AM, in time for breakfast at the “official” Appalachian tailgate party before the 12 noon kickoff. I even had a Bloody Mary before 10 AM. When the sun got almost straight overhead, we went into the Big House. In most states, saying you’ve been to the Big House isn’t something to brag about, for in generally refers to the penitentiary. But here, the Big House is where Michigan, the school with the best record ever, plays football and before yesterday, going to the Big House was something to celebrate. Our seats were in the Southeast corner, where we and the handful of App Fans held up for the game.
The game started out like expected. Michigan got the ball and quickly marched down field and scored. But then, Appalachian returned the favor. Michigan scored again and so did Appalachian. No one could believe it, that a small school for the mountains were playing ball with the big boys. Then, even more remarkable, Appalachian scored again and again. Michigan finally got a field goal, and the teams went into the locker room with ASU at 28, Michigan 17. It appeared at the first half, Appalachian had learned how to capitalize on Michigan’s spread defense.
This is me at the game (you can thank my daughter for my extra hair). I had a Pittsburgh cap to wear (it’s the same colors as App State, only with a P instead of an A), but it was so hot that I decided I’d wear my more famous hat. Besides, I knew that if I ran into a certain tailgater, she wouldn’t forgive me if she saw me with any other hat. Unfortunately, Murf’s tailgating crew were on the wrong side of the stadium and with 107,000 people inside the Big House (plus who knows how many outside), it was hard to get around to other areas of the campus.
The second half then started and it appeared Appalachian had lost its offensive magic. They also appeared tired. They did manage to get a field goal in the third quarter. In the fourth, with around four minutes left, Michigan scored a touchdown, putting them up 32 to 31. It didn’t look good. But then, with 30 seconds or so on the clock, Appalachian had the ball with no time outs deep in Michigan’s territory. On first down, they kicked a field goal to put them up by 2 points. Those of us on the south side of the stadium, who all spoke with a drawl, began to feel like the Confederates at Gettysburg when Pettigrew’s men broke the Union line on Cemetery Ridge on that fateful date of July 3, 1863. Things were looking good.
Then Michigan returned the kickoff and quickly got downfield. With six seconds left on the clock, Michigan set up for a short field goal. It looked to be a repeat of Gettysburg, with a counter attack by a bunch of Pennsylvania boys drove back the charge and filled the plug in the Union lines. But this time, the counter attack failed. For the second time in the game, Appalachian’s defense blocked the kick. This time a defender picked up the ball and headed down hill, being tackled by a Michigan player on the five yard line. It didn’t matter, ASU’s defense had held and the clock had run out and David had once again slew Goliath. Needless to say, those in our end of the stadium went wild as those wearing blue and maize filed out quietly.
It was an amazing game and one for the history books. This was the first time in Michigan’s history that the school had played a 2AA college and it was also the first time in the history of college sports that a Division 1AA team has beaten a nationally ranked Division 1A team. It was an exciting game and, needless to say, my uncle and his daughter are extremely happy. They’d been hoping that ASU would give Michigan a good fight; they never dreamed they’d be going back the victors.