I’ve experienced a handful of college football games from the sidelines. None of which stack up to the CyHawk game I had the fortune of photographing this weekend.
Even before opening kickoff, you could tell it was going to be loud. Cyclone fans tailgate with the likes of almost no other college campus I’ve been to.
Given the sheer magnitude of the game, I expected the atmosphere to be electric and it didn’t let me down. From the opening air raid siren when Iowa State came onto the field until the end of overtime, the noise hardly ever let up.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite part, but the game, without a doubt, held up to any rivalry game I’ve seen.
The game itself was anything but what I expected. The 14-10 halftime score was exactly what I thought the two teams were capable of. Offenses that can put together a couple of long, thorough scoring drives but nothing that jumps off the page.
Then the second half kicked off.
Each team traded a possession, followed with five of the next seven drives resulting in touchdowns.
At this point, I had definitely lost a little bit of my hearing. I can contribute that to the crowd and standing in front of the cannon, never remembering that it was about to go off.
I don’t have a ton of experience taking photos, but was lucky enough to be in great position for a couple that I’m fairly proud of. And one that easily would have been the best one of the afternoon if it wasn’t slightly out of focus.
The second half felt like a whirlwind.
Allen Lazard’s ability to go up and get the ball, especially on a fade route, is up there with some of the best in the country. Akrum Wadley put Cyclone defenders on skates repeatedly.
Next thing we knew, Iowa State had reeled off 17 unanswered points and Jack Trice stadium probably hit its peak decibel level.
The two best plays of the game were yet to come. Iowa State completed a 74-yard touchdown pass of which my view was completely obstructed. The only reason I knew what was happening was because the crowd was going crazy.
Wadley responded quickly with a 46-yard reception of his own. He barely broke the goal line, but with only a minute left to play, it basically guaranteed that the 2017 CyHawk game was headed to overtime.
Since the game finished, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a better football game I’ve witnessed live.
A 2009 Notre Dame-Stanford contest in Palo Alto was the best I could come up with. Everybody in the stadium knew the Irish couldn’t stop Toby Gerhart who finished with more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The last of which came with just under a minute remaining in regulation.
I know fan bases rise to the occasion against their rivals, but for my first ever Iowa State football game, I can tell the Cyclone fandom is nothing to smirk at.
The quote of the game came as we were walking through the parking lot back to our car.
“Iowa State lost. How am I supposed to have fun tonight?”
It’s that kind of rabid, losses-ruin-the-rest-of-my-day fandom that I never tire of seeing. Hopefully, it won’t be my last CyHawk game. But, if it is, I certainly won’t forget it.
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