Monday, October 2, 2017

North Carolina Tar Heels 7 at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 33 (NCAA Football, ACC) - September 30, 2017


My sports road trips are now going to be sports weekends, mostly to maintain my Club 123 membership. My first autumnal adventure was to Atlanta, where the Falcons opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium to much fanfare. I was in town to see the Bills take on the defending NFC champs on Sunday, but had to find something to do on Saturday. Georgia State was to host Memphis and I had received a free ticket from a friend, but that game was cancelled after Memphis's match against UCF, postponed due to Hurricane Irma, was rescheduled for the same date. Fortunately, Georgia Tech was also home, taking on UNC at Bobby Dodd Stadium, so I made that my Saturday special.



One of the problems with college football is that start times are not set until 12 days before the game, by which time flights are generally more expensive. I had booked my flight several weeks prior using miles, which limited my options to a flight that arrived at 12:15. I hoped that at least one of the games would be scheduled for the late afternoon or evening, but then the State game was unscheduled. Naturally, the Tech game was then set for a noon kickoff, ensuring that I would be late.



Fortunately, tickets were cheap on the secondary market, so I picked one up the night before, printing it out. My flight actually arrived early, and I was able to catch the MARTA train at 12:10, arriving at the stadium around 12:35, just as the second quarter was getting started. I flew without luggage, so had no trouble getting into the stadium immediately, where I started snapping pictures. The shot above is from the southeast corner just inside the main gate, with the south end zone in the shade, while below is the east side, with two decks.



I moved around the lower concourse, taking a shot from the northeast corner with the only scoreboard in the distance...



...and the north end zone, which is where the band sits. As you can probably tell, it was White Out Day, with fans instructed to wear white, as did the players. Being unaware of this, I had worn dark blue, but that is also a Tech colour, so I was not mistaken for a Tar Heel.



During a break in the action, I made my way to my seat (view below), which was just six rows up in the east upper deck. There are only benches here, but many fans use Stinger Seats, which push back a little bit into the row behind. I was in Seat 42, an aisle seat, which is possibly the longest section I have ever seen. With limited leg room to begin with and those Stinger Seats, getting to Seat 21 would not be fun at all.



The sun was unforgiving, so at halftime, I moved to the shade in the south end zone and enjoyed the halftime show, including one of the cheerleaders tossing fiery batons. The North Carolina kicker was not as impressed.



The band put on a good show as well, though from my angle, I could not tell if they were spelling out any words or creating any designs, as the Ohio State band does.



When the third quarter started, Georgia Tech was coming toward my end zone. As they were dominating the game, I stayed in the shade and saw a couple of touchdowns right in front of me, including a 63-yard scamper from KirVonte Benson and a 12-yard catch by Ricky Jeune (#2 below). I actually prefer sitting in the end zone than at midfield for this reason.



Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Yellow Jackets up 27-0, I returned to the upper deck and watched UNC break the shutout with a touchdown. Tech got that one back with less than two minutes to play but the PAT hit the goalpost and bounced out, making the final 33-7. Not a particularly exciting game, but a fun afternoon.



Notes

This was my second trip to Georgia Tech; back in 2010 I saw their tennis team play on an off day after a Thrashers game.

Best,

Sean

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