Thursday, December 30, 2010
SMU-Army: A First Hand Look Inside the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl
First off, I'd like to thank the GPS on my IPhone for sending me eight miles north of where I wanted to be as well as putting me on a dead end road.
Now that's out of the way, I wanted to talk about my first hand account of being at the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl between the SMU Mustangs and the Army Black Knights.
This was my first trip to the campus of SMU and I wasn't a bit disappointed. In fact, quite the opposite. The campus is beautiful and the stadium is incredibly nice, as is the press box I sat in during the game. It's not a huge stadium so it makes for a great atmosphere for a game like this.
Walking up to the stadium from the parking garage, I was able to take in the sights that were in front of me. I saw military men and women from every branch in their dress uniforms. Their families walking alongside them or just fans that had made the trip to West Point.
I grabbed my media credential and made my way up to the press box, though I will admit that I stopped a few times and noticed the Marines in their dress blues or the West Point cadets in their greys. Still a cool sight to behold because we here in Dallas don't get to see that all that often.
Once inside the press box I got my first true look around Gerald J. Ford Stadium. To my right were all the fans and cadets of the Army at West Point and down below us also to the right were some members of the Naval Academy.
Just before the game got underway, a military chopper that was sitting in the field to be gawked at by those of us who still realize how cool those things are took off and banked around the stadium.
Say what you want about me being a kid in a candy store at that moment, but at least I'm admitting it. I hadn't seen anything like that even though I lived in San Diego, a big time military town, in the eight years I lived there.
What followed next was a very large C-130 cargo plane that was no more than a thousand feet off the ground. It did a few trips around the area and, surprisingly, didn't cause any traffic accidents by people looking up at it from their cars. Normally on that freeway, no one knows how to stare and drive at the same time.
The plane was filled with cadets who were supposed to be parachuting into the stadium but due to the high winds in the area had to abort and was sent back to wherever it took off from. There were a few of us in the press box that were a tad bummed not to get to see that as I'm sure a lot of the fans were as well.
The game itself didn't start all that well for SMU. On the third play of the game, Mustangs' quarterback Kyle Padron fumbled and it was returned 55-yards for an Army touchdown.
Padron turned the ball over three times in the first half and to add insult to injury, a missed field goal in the first half, a chip shot at that, would come back to haunt the Mustangs.
Army's defense was as stubborn as ever through the entire first half, shutting out SMU and going into halftime with a 16-0 lead.
The second half was a complete turn of events. SMU figured out how to move the ball and do so without turning it over and Army couldn't figure out how to stop them.
Padron would thrown two touchdowns to pull his team to within two points of Army late in the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs would get the ball back and drove to the Army 30-yard line with just over three minutes to go. The only problem was it would be a 45-yard shot straight in to a whipping 25 mile per hour headwind. Not exactly prime conditions for a game winner.
They went for it anyway and from the moment that ball got off the ground the wind grabbed it, pushed it left, and there was the ball game.
Not taking anything away from Army because they did everything they needed to do to win and they did it all in the first half. Credit their defense for a tremendous effort and credit their offense for putting together a few drives that took a lot of time off the clock.
All-in-all it was a great day at the stadium and one I won't soon forget.
I will say, in closing, the fans of West Point should be unbelievably proud because that's a long way to travel just to see their boys play one final game for the 2010 college football season.
The best moment of the entire day was the very end of the game.
The SMU players went over to the northeast corner of the stadium and stood as their band played their school's song. Right behind their players was the entire team from Army. I've never seen that before and I've watched a lot of college football game.
They showed a ton of class to stand there right behind the SMU players while their band played. SMU would return the favor as after their song concluded, Army's players ran to the southeast corner of the stadium to celebrate their win with their fans and, just as the Black Knights had done, the SMU players stood behind the Army players as their song played.
Absolute class from both teams.
It topped off an already incredible day.