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Friday, November 09, 2012

Seminoles Escape at Blacksburg - Nearly Turn Our 11 Day Road Trip into a Disaster

Cousins Keith - Celeste Cox - Brooke Cox - Drew. The Tallahassee Conversion Van in the back. Note the hitch carrier for all the "tailgate" supplies.

Brooke Cox - Jackie Cox - Celeste Cox - and Lulu Cox Everhart at the tailgate party. Note the tent - and grills. The tent had a gas heater.

Our trip started in Tallahassee at 2 AM Thursday. Lulu awoke and changed our plane tickets to take an earlier flight. Our cab never arrived. For a moment I thought I was going to eat the $400 worth of game tickets nuzzled in a secret compartment in my wallet. So one disaster was averted. Tallahassee to Atlanta to Washington to Richmond to Roanoke to Blacksburg. From 6 AM to 6 PM - we were on the Seminole warpath.

Lulu's brother Jackie had gotten us a VIP parking pass for Lot 9.  When we got there - they were all set up and the party was going on for 4  hours already. They had a tent pitched with a heater - a stove - a grill - and lots of great food. Along with Tami - his daughters Brooke and Celeste were there to spend time with their cousins Drew and Keith. They hauled all the wonderful chicken - shrimp - fruit - and bean soup in the Tallahassee Van. Next to the van - they had saved a space for our rental car. 

We did not get to see much of Blacksburg - but what we saw was really pretty.  The buildings and stadium on the campus were made of a light colored limestone known as Hokie Stone quarried locally - the fall leaves were already on the ground. This was supposedly the 78th sellout in their 60,000 seat stadium - it was a crowd that would have been very comfortable at the Republican Convention - 80% male - 99.99% white - and just like at that convention - the wrong team won - and their was fraud at the polls. Even though I was wearing my FSU Seminoles coat - not one person made a bad comment - or was threatened by our presence. 

Lane Stadium is a fairly tight concrete and stone structure and their crowd can be extremely loud. FSU scored on the first drive - staying ahead for most of the game - kept the crowd around us complaining about Coach Beamer and their 6 foot 6 - 290 pound quarterback. 

Virginia Tech does a fantastic job with the fireworks after every score. Not only is there a lot - but they are launched very close to the stadium. They also shoot off a cannon after each score - they used to do it right in the stadium - but after the campus shooting - the cannon has been moved to outside the stadium. It is still cool. Homer Hickam - the writer and main character in the movie October Sky - went to Va Tech - and he was a charter member of the group that constructed the cannon and started the tradition. They have a corps of cadets that is prominent on campus and provides a military band at halftime going through  marching maneuvers. The cadets sit in the end zone and it reminds me of the Army/Navy games I used to attend with my Dad at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.

The game itself could have been super fantastic or in one second could have been a disaster. FSU was winning the whole game by as many as 10 points. With 2 minutes to go - the Hokies went ahead by 1 point and there was bedlam. The Hokies had already lost 5 games this year - and beating FSU would have been their Rose Bowl. And for one shining moment it was all happening. I thought it was going to be a rough 11 days with Lulu on the road. The Hokies were 14-1 at home in the last 2 years - but not this night. FSU had 2 minutes to march down the field. They got to the 50 yard line and were stopped. It was 4th down and 1 yard to go - I envisioned a charge into the line and a stop. But not this time - James Wilder Jr ran for 7 yards. Two plays later FSU scored a touchdown - and there was silence - except for the Everhart 4. The Seminoles won and FSU is virtually guaranteed a spot in the ACC championship game - and maybe a ticket to the Orange Bowl - an FSU home game to finish the season with just  1 one point lost.

I am typing this in the back of a rented Nissan Pathfinder - sons up front - Lulu napping the back seat - me with the suitcases. We jovially discuss what a "great" game it was - and but for that one 4th down run - we would be leaving with our tails between our legs. On to the next adventure - playing with the grandkids for a couple days - then Lulu's business in Washington. A few meals with Keith and Liz in the DC Grind - and it will be time for a noon game at  College Park Maryland next Saturday and a lonely flight home Sunday.

FSU may end up 13 and 1 - with a 1 point loss to a poor NCSU game this year. Still this team is not even a shadow of the Noles of the 90s. When FSU used to come to town - you knew you would lose - you were just hoping they did not pin 70 points on you or lame your quarterback for life. But for me - it is good enough. The Everhart family (now 7 of us) get to gather together with a common interest - to cheer for the Noles.

Lulu had a hard time finding a hotel room in Roanoke for our 1:30 AM arrival. This Holiday Inn had 48 inch wide "double beds" but after a little complaining - all 4 of us were soundly asleep.

Lane Stadium is made of a local limestone - called Hokie Stone. The seats see closer to the field and the stands are steeper that at FSU. The seats were wider too and they were filled. The stadium hold 60,000 and all the seats seemed filled. We saw tickets for sale outside the stadium for $20 each. 

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