Game 198 – Virginia Tech @ North Carolina

No post-season? No problem. Probation hasn’t fazed North Carolina, and witnessing the wild white out that crowded Kenan Stadium, any casual observer would be hard pressed to find clues that this team has suffered a set-back by the NCAA. With the invasion of Virginia Tech and their fans, Chapel Hill was charged up with activity from Franklin Street to the Old Well and beyond. Fraternities spilled over with anticipation, fans climbed the famed bell tower and snapped pictures with Rameses, the band pounded out its pregame routine, and the crowd marched its way over to the stadium. Clearly, the NCAA crackdown wasn’t going to break the stride of gameday on this campus.

We took part in all of these activities in an effort to absorb every ounce of atmosphere. When climbing the up the bell tower, we noticed many names written in Sharpie on the brick walls inside the old structure. Figuring that this was a fan tradition, I pulled a Bic pen from my pocket and began inscribing our names into North Carolina history – until I was stopped by an attendant telling me that this was a tradition for seniors on graduation day. Oops! Thankfully, it was only a ballpoint, and the person on duty reassured me that it was totally okay –but it didn’t completely eradicate my chagrin. But, does this mean I can add another degree to my resume?

After the bell debacle, we moved over to the stadium and I must say, I was eagerly anticipating seeing an arena filled with the famed Carolina blue. I had my baby blue t-shirt all ready to go, but missed the memo telling of white-out conditions at Kenan Stadium. The white pom pons placed on every seat saved the day and created a brilliant way for fans to express their electricity. The hot sun shined down on a perfect day in Chapel Hill. The Tarheels blasted out of the tunnel wearing all white, and the pride in the stands spilled over the edges. A shootout ensued and the Hokies were quick to learn that this North Carolina squad was not laying down this season. Leading 28-20 at half, the Tarheels shook off a penalty ridden start and continued their rhythm in the second half trading punches with the Hokies, but outlasting them 48-34. This would mark the first truly impressive win for North Carolina this year, while sending a message to the ACC that Carolina blue would be a color to reckon with the rest of this season and in seasons to come. Once all zeros showed on the clock, the Tarheel players ran over to the students to belt out the alma mater and sing “Carolina Victory.” The bell tower rang out the same songs as fans walked back into the campus celebrations. The experience was truly fulfilling, and for us, we caught our breath, hopped in the car, and drove toward Raleigh for our second game of the day…

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