I recently wrote an article highlighting what I thought were the 50 biggest games in 2009, and one of the games I included was Virginia Tech at East Carolina.
This point in the list triggered a pair of memories for me, one being East Carolina's upset win over the Hokies last year, and another being the first Virginia Tech football game I ever attended.
When I joined Bleacher Report, I went through the profile creation process like everyone else and was eventually asked to fill out my short list. Some of my responses came quickly, others made me think, but perhaps no question was answered faster than, "Most Memorable Game Attended."
It's probably safe to say that the majority of Bleacher Report's members are more than average sports fans and consequently had to choose their most memorable game from a multitude of sporting events attended over the course of their life.
I myself, remember, Bruins games with my father and brother, where we couldn't wait to see the 5'11", 180 pound P.J. Stock take on an opposing team's biggest guy and somehow win, Patriot games in the snow at Foxborough, and afternoons at Fenway.
I have a rather painful memory of a raucous Lane Stadium ready to erupt in celebration for a Hokie win, only to be silenced by a truly epic Matt Ryan led comeback in the final four minutes.
I even remember a few high school games like they were yesterday, but for some reason while the memories of these games linger, none of them seemed to be enough for me to choose one when filling out my short list.
I will share what made a September 1 game in 2007 between the Virginia Tech Hokies and East Carolina University Pirates, the most memorable game I've ever been to.
I invite anyone who may read this to share their own most memorable game, I think it'd be interesting to hear others' stories and I'd certainly be first in line to read it if you choose to.
I had been accepted into many of the colleges that I had applied and was on my way to an event at Virginia Tech in April, 2007. I spent the weekend with my parents taking part in most of the activities the college offered for accepted students, and by Sunday had pretty much made up my mind, that Virginia Tech was the place for me.
My dad decided we should stay one more day, his reasoning being that choosing a college isn't something to rush and I should be sure that Blacksburg, Virginia was where I really wanted to spend the next four years.
On Monday, April 16, we left the hotel in the morning and as we were pulling into the main part of Virginia Tech's campus, a police car flew by with its sirens blaring. Soon what seemed like hundreds of police cruisers were suddenly screaming by, and the campus was locked down.
Throughout the day more and more news broke about the horrible tragedy that had taken place; eventually people were allowed to leave and we began our 12-hour journey home in a state of complete shock, not really knowing what to say.
The next couple months were filled with talk about different college options, but in the back of my mind Virginia Tech was always where I wanted to be, and eventually where I ended up.
Flash forward to Saturday, September 1, and I was ready for the first home game I would ever attend at Virginia Tech. ESPN's College Gameday crew was set up in front of Lane Stadium bringing added buzz to an already emotionally charged campus, looking to begin the healing process with a big Hokie win.
I was less than 15 days into college and being from Massachusetts, didn't really know anyone besides another student, Nick, who I had met during orientation. We started the day about 10 rows back from Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and fan favorite Lee Corso for the College Gameday show and proceeded to enter Lane Stadium about 45 minutes before the noon kickoff.
I can't begin to describe the level of excitement I felt as I watched the kickoff clock countdown, while an endless stream of people poured into the stadium. There was a certain atmosphere that I had never felt before and have yet to feel since, that seemed to give a building filled with people, an impossibly large sense of understanding and togetherness.
In the final minutes before kickoff, the stadium announcer asked everyone for a moment of silence to remember the 32 lives that were lost on April 16. In the ensuing seconds, I don't believe I have ever heard a more deafening silence, if you closed your eyes you would never know thousands of people filled the very same building.
Thirty-two balloons were then released in memory of each of the victims, and a video tribute remembering the fallen Hokies started to play on the North end zone's JumboTron. The 67,000 people in attendance turned to the screen to watch and I truly believe 67,000 people began to cry.
I honestly can't remember seeing dry eyes in the crowd and at that moment, though I had only been a member of Virginia Tech for about two weeks, the thousands of other human beings in Lane Stadium suddenly felt like family.
A few minutes seemed to regroup everyone and it was time for the introduction of East Carolina University. Pirate and Hokie fans alike gave the ECU players a standing ovation for their school's incredible support, which included the donation of a $100,000 check to Virginia Tech's memorial fund.
After East Carolina had been introduced, I suddenly heard the same 67,000 people that had once been so silent, erupt into something louder than I ever thought possible, when the first notes of "Enter Sandman" blasted through the speakers. I literally felt chills down my back as the entire stadium rocked with the incredible Virginia Tech entrance; it was an all-around special experience.
The game itself wasn't the 27 point beat down Vegas predicted and the Hokies got off to a slow start falling behind 7-3 early in the second quarter.
It seemed like East Carolina had different plans and was going to spoil Virginia Tech's day, until Macho Harris returned an interception for a touchdown with just over three minutes left in the half, putting the Hokies up by three.
Macho Harris plays hero for Hokie Nation.
A fourth quarter touchdown pass by Sean Glennon to tight end Sam Wheeler was enough to put the game away.
Hokie Nation rejoiced in the first major step back to normalcy, and I realized I had made the right choice in Virginia Tech.
I know I will forever remember going to this game because September 1, 2007 was bigger than a game that day; it was hope for a brighter tomorrow in Blacksburg.
*I hope you enjoyed my story and encourage all who would like to, to share the story of your most memorable game because it has to be memorable for a reason and I'm sure others would love to hear about it. Thank you for reading.
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