After about six hours of sleep in Weatherford, sports editor Paul Harris and I made our way to Arlington and Cowboys Stadium. This would be the second time I have covered a game here as I had the opportunity to cover the Class 1-A Division I state championship between Mason and Stamford here last December. This building never ceases to amaze me. Just the size of this place is jaw-dropping even if you're not a Cowboys fan.
Our local college, Angelo State University, was participating in the Lone Star Football Festival and would be playing in the first game of the afternoon against No. 18 Valdosta State form Georgia. Obviously there were more ASU fans there but there was a nice little rowdy group there to support Valdosta. The Rams came into this game with a 1-1 record looking to give a good showing.
After checking in at the media gate and picking up our credentials, Paul Harris made his way to the press box while I headed down to the field to the photographers workroom. I remembered from the last time that I would be making quite a hike as the workroom was located on the opposite side of the stadium. Every time I have to make a long walk with all my gear I realize just how desperately I need to invest in a rolling camera bag. For an assignment like this I use a Think Tank camera backpack that I can put all my lenses, camera bodies, laptop and all the other little odds and ends in, but, boy does it get heavy.
After getting a bite to eat and re-hydrating myself after sweating buckets from carrying all that gear, I positioned myself at the south end of the field for the opening kickoff. The Rams seemed to be able to move the ball efficiently but failed to make it into the end zone. They had to settle for a field goal taking the early lead 3-0.Valdosta State then went on a 17-0 run and had a comfortable lead heading into halftime.
This particular game started at noon so I didn't have to worry about deadline pressure. It's not very often that I just get to relax during halftime, maybe grab something cold to drink, use the facilities and just rest my legs from hauling gear up and down the field. Normally I'm in a rush to get my laptop out, furiously editing through my photos, cropping, captioning and transmitting them back to the office.
When the second half started ASU had some ground to make up. Early in the third quarter Angelo State quarterback Josh Hamblin found receiver C.J. Akins in the end zone to bring the Rams within a touchdown of tying the game. This was the third touchdown pass Akins has caught this season. ASU then forced Valdosta into a punting situation, but to the surprise of everyone in the stadium, Valdosta picked up 39 yards on a fake punt and set themselves up for a field goal to go ahead 20-10. The rest of the game went down hill for the Rams after that point. With a series of miscues on ASU's part and intense play by Valdosta, the Rams lost the game 43-10. Regardless of where the game is played, be it Cowboys Stadium or in a cotton field near Veribest, you always want to see the home team win. It was a tough loss for the Rams, but I was glad to be back in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium.