Monday, September 23, 2013

UGA vs. North Texas

Friday night we had a quiet night at home. Watched some of the Braves replay. A was upstairs studying, and C was helping M with some homework. At 10 pm I was on the computer when the phone rang. One of Will’s old coaches had Georgia tickets he wasn’t going to use.

Every year Ceil talks about how she’d like to go to a game at Sanford Stadium. In 2011 I came into some tickets for a night game, so she didn’t want to go. Since this game against North Texas kicked off at 12:15, I thought this one would be better. But C was stressed about Matthew’s lack of progress with his schoolwork. He’s in the 9th grade this year and the workload has increased, and M has struggled. C also hadn’t grocery shopped, and she was looking forward to a trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market.

Now that I had the tickets I felt like I needed to use them. Coworker Dialysis had been talking about wanting to go to a Georgia game, since he had never been before. He lives near Monroe, halfway to Athens, so we agreed to meet at the Varsity. I drove up 85 to Jefferson, GA, and then took that four-lane into Athens. Traffic wasn’t bad until we hit the red-lights in Athens. I found the same free parking place I had used in 2011 on the street running behind the Varsity. Dialysis arrived, and we made the mile walk to the stadium. Arrived just before the national anthem.

After having to get up for the first two huge games against Clemson and South Carolina, and with the big LSU game looming next week, there was no way the Dawgs could have been expected to come in to this North Texas game all pumped up. In the fan’s eyes, Georgia’s offense failed when they did not score on their first two possessions. The Dawgs did rack up a large statistical advantage on both offense and defense: over 250 yards passing in the first 16 minutes of the game, and negative rushing yards allowed. But the “Mean Green” got extremely lucky, hitting on four unlikely plays to tie the game at 21 all. The Georgia fans were beside themselves. A NT receiver made a diving touchdown catch, a NT kickoff return went all the way for another TD, and a UGA punt was blocked into the end zone for a third score.

Since the Dawgs were playing North Texas many of the real fans had given/sold their tickets to more casual fans, who were prone to make inane comments. QB Aaron Murray was “awful” though at the time he was 13-16 and 256 yards passing. I decided to make similar stupid comments loudly enough so others could hear.

The first half was played in a very light sprinkle. In the second half this sprinkle slowly got heavier. By the end of the third quarter the very same fans who were imploring the team to play harder must have decided the team had done enough, for as the rain increased so did the stream of fans out of the stadium. Dialysis had bought a cheap poncho before the game and was mostly dry. I knew how hot those ponchos could get, and I knew it wouldn’t keep me completely dry anyway, so I got wet. With less then three minutes to go Georgia was up 17 points, and Dialysis had seen enough. We walked out together. He went straight to his car, and I walked over to Will’s dorm. The rain continued to grow heavier. I was wet, but not soaked. Yet.

Will had dorm duty and didn’t go to the game. He watched the game on his laptop while studying on the dorm’s covered porch, where he could hear the sounds from the nearby stadium. He gave me a quick tour. Outside the rain had become a downpour. Will gave me a jacket that helped, but on my walk back to the car I got completely soaked. Some placed I had to walk through six inches of water. I’d worn shoes and a cap I didn’t mind getting wet. The rain slacked off for the last quarter mile, but my wet shoes wore blisters on my Achilles.

At the car I grabbed dry shorts, shoes, and a shirt from my trunk, and changed out of the wet clothes. Traffic headed back out toward Jefferson GA wasn’t bad until I got near the interstate. With a police escort, the two buses carrying the North Texas team lumbered past. I stopped at RaceTrac for a drink and heard talk of an accident on the interstate. I considered an alternate route, but decided to risk it. Wrong. After several clear miles traffic backed up. THEN my Low Fuel light came on just after I had passed an exit, and I got worried. Traffic was stopped, or moving 5 MPH. I called Will, who had left after 5 pm to come home, but was stuck in traffic on 316. He would beat me home by an hour.

Fortunately traffic improved, and I made it to the Chateau √Član exit for gas. From there my GPS directed me over to Gainesville, down 985 to highway 20, over to Cumming, and down 400 to Roswell. Not a bad drive.

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