BYU football fans represent at Virginia game

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The thunderous music, the immense crowds, the sweltering heat and the stunning whirlwind of white t-shirts. It was easy to get

BYU players get ready to run on to the field before the start of the BYU vs Virginia game. (Maddi Dayton)
BYU players get ready to run on to the field before the start of the BYU vs Virginia game. (Maddi Dayton)

lost and dehydrated among the vendor booths at the tailgate party and supporters in attendance for BYU football Saturday, Sept. 20. Everyone, everywhere, seemed ready and excited to get the next Cougar football game underway against Virginia. However, it was still two and a half hours before the game.

Whenever the BYU football team plays a game at the LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo becomes “Cougar Town.” The city erupts in energy, activity and traffic as fans prepare for the game. This is BYU’s territory.

Some fans arrive very early to the game. The tailgating lots opened at 6 a.m. for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off. Families came with trailers and RVs from all over the country to set up their grills and have their own little celebrations before the game.

Students began lining up in the early morning to guarantee themselves a great seat. With the ROC passes now being on a first-come-first-serve basis, students are eager and willing to line up early for the chance at that front-row seat, the best seat in the house for a student.

In fact, the night before the Houston game, Coach Bronco Mendenhall and the team went to the stadium to do a walk-through and saw that students were camping out to make sure they got great seats the next day. The couches and players were so impressed, Bronco personally ordered and paid for pizzas to be delivered to the students.

“We showed up for a walk-through, and it wasn’t planned or organized. I don’t know how they found out,” Mendenhall said. “And there was 100-ish people, and there were tents. It felt like an amazing college football experience. … So, I just, in a small way, wanted to show my appreciation and thanks.”

At 11:15 a.m., several busses arrived with a police escort, containing the stars of the show: the BYU football team. Led down the path by the BYU marching band and cheerleaders, the players were surrounded by fans on both sides as they traveled down “Cougar Walk.” The players gave high fives and smiles to their supporters as they walked toward the stadium’s east side entrance. The fans cheered and shouted encouraging words to help the players get pumped for the match. During this pre-game time the players and fans could connect for a moment and intensify their unity before hitting the field.

For the remaining hours leading up to the game, fans made their way over to the tailgate party held on the west side of the stadium. Companies set up booths and entertainment for the fans to enjoy as music played through large speakers and team highlights displayed on giant TV screens.

Jennifer Dustin and her daughter, Emma, have been season ticket holders for three years. After a long, five-hour drive from Victor, Idaho, the two get excited for the game by going through the tailgate party.

“We come for all of it,” Jennifer Dustin said. “For the atmosphere, the fun and the games, just to walk around and get excited for the game. It’s fun. It’s like going to the carnival, seeing what you can win.”

Reed and Hazel Argyle have a shorter distance to go, coming from American Fork, but they have attended the home games for nearly 45 years. Year after year, they come to the pre-game entertainment and never get bored. It is their way of getting ready and excited for the game.

“(We come for) the atmosphere, coming and getting ready for the game,” Reed Argyle said. “We’ve enjoyed the experience, you know; that’s why we come early.”

“We go in and watch the players get all warmed up,” Hazel Argyle said. “It just makes it more exciting, just the atmosphere of it.”

Soon, the band and cheerleaders came out on the street and performed for the fans, adding to the pre-game anticipation.

Fans get excited about BYU's 4-0 streak (Maddi Dayton)
Fans get excited about BYU’s 4-0 streak (Maddi Dayton)

Then, finally, it was kickoff time. Fans made it to their seats, and after standing for the national anthem and singing “The Cougar Fight Song,” fans chanted “B-Y-U-Cougars” as the team huddled in the tunnel. All players touched “the ROC” as they went by; they stormed on the field and were welcomed with a thunderous cheer.

The game was a hard-fought contest against Virginia. BYU trailed for the first time this season when the Cavaliers scored a touchdown on their first drive. However, for BYU fans and the Cougar football team, this was the time for revenge for their 2013 loss.

In the end, BYU did not disappoint. Perhaps the one play in the second half that seemed to seal the deal was when BYU’s running back, Adam Hine, playing on special teams as a kick returner, caught the kickoff on the one yard and ran 99 yards for the Cougars’ final touchdown of the day. As players celebrated with Hine in the end zone and sideline, the fans’ cheers and screams reverberated throughout the stadium.

The Cougars came out on top once again, continuing their undefeated record of 4-0. The tailgate party, the pre-game entertainment, the energy and the excitement were over for the day. However, BYU fans still have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks, including the continuing conversations on sports channels about BYU’s undefeated record, BYU’s potentially to crack into one of the New Year’s Day bowl games, or better, and Taysom Hill’s potential Heisman status.

BYU has a bye week this week. The timing couldn’t be better, as it will provide several key players time to heal from the wear and tear a 4-0 record can bring. After that, though, fans are in for another treat on Oct. 3 as Utah State comes to “Cougar Town.”

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