A sea of kelly green fills the streets of Huntington, West Virginia in anticipation of their Marshall Thundering Herd’s game against Ohio.
As I drove towards the stadium, I felt like an outlier in my dark green Ohio polo.
However, it was obvious that Herd nation was ready for their night game and had been ready for a few hours. I drove around the block a few times in my pursuit to find my parking spot I noticed tents and tables set up almost in every spot near Joan C. Edwards stadium I could have expected such an atmosphere for a mid-major that takes pride in their football program.
On the walk to the stadium I noticed that Marshall had a look about their campus that was different. They had newly built buildings, but kept the brick feel all around. For example, their recreation center was all bricks on the outside, but had big glass windows on the corners and in the middle of the buildings. This added a nice contrast between traditional values and vibrant styles.
Any ways, going back to the atmosphere. I strolled through the middle of two residence halls and they had a tailgate going on in the middle space. A friendly lady excitedly told me to have some food. This was a solid step in to what had already been a great game day experience.
I strolled by more tailgaters on my way in to the stadium to find a stage set up where Marshall’s band was performing. This had me put high expectations on what the band could do considering they had a stage for them. Well those expectations were… we will get to that later.
Upon entering the stadium, one of the ushers was more than happy to show me where the media entrance was. I took their advice and found my spot-on press row with a plate of food, which was Texas Roadhouse catering, so I had a party in my tummy because it was so yummy.
My full belly and I decided to head towards the field. Obviously, I wanted to check out more of what was going on so I took leisurely walk around the entire concourse.
Right off the bat I noticed the number of local vendors that were around. I felt like I was at the fair with freshly squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes and cotton candy stations around every corner I turned. If it were not for the food in the press box, I would have consumed way too many calories all of those incredible foods and drinks they had and would have probably ended up in the medical tent.
After the lap of the stadium, I made way to the field.
Oh boy was this place on the verge of getting rowdy. It was apparent that all the fans in the stadium had been so ready for this game and they were riled up. You could not spot too many Bobcat fans in the crowd except for one section behind the 110.
The Marshall fans started to clap along with their pregame hype video on the video board and that was just one of the many things they were able to accomplish in unison.
Alright, it was finally time.
Right before the first kick I heard the first of the rivalry talk of the night. The Marshall student section had begun a *BEEP* OHIO chant. That had my head turning, but hey, more power to them!
My biggest take away from the first half was how much the Marching 110 outperformed the Marshall band. I mean my goodness! It was not even close! The 110 was blasting the tunes, getting jiggy with left and right. Then they took to the field at half-time and had another killer performance.
Chalk up another ‘W’ for the 110.
For the second half, I was surprised to see the lack of enthusiasm out of the Marshall student section. They were all sitting down and appeared some had left.
But one thing did not leave. The *BEEP* OHIO chant. This must have gotten to the Bobcats because Marshall was able to hold on to their lead.
Marshall fans continued their perfectly timed claps, chants and cheering throughout the second half and that made me feel good. A fan base that is so true in their support of their team, that they naturally flow.
Although this did create the most ironic moment of the night. A loud and clear “We are Marshall!” chant was bouncing off both sides of the stadium mid-way through the fourth quarter. Just after Thunder nation was kicking it in to high gear, Nathan Rourke blew the tires off the chant by busting off a huge touchdown run.
This was the quietest the stadium had been all night.
That soon came to end after Marshall scored a touchdown on the next drive. A score that would end up giving them the win.
I looked around the stadium after the clock hit zero and it was a cool atmosphere. I was an outcast that night because of my dark green Ohio polo, but I still saw something special in that wave of light green that was the Herd nation.
You could feel the sense of pride they had for their hometown team in the air.
Every time they cut to the fan cam, there was people with pure smiles and at one point there was a kid that raised his eyebrows in a creeper manner that had me skittish. That was weird, but for the most part it was delightful to see the fun everyone was having.
Huntington is a town that is not nearby a professional sports team, so like many other towns like this, they cling on to their local school. This could not be truer for Marshall University.
They had a wonderful tailgating scene, incredible stadium that was filled and most importantly, had a sense of pride for the team they were cheering for.