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Sun, 18 Sep 2005

4:42 and UT is driving
There's 4 minutes and 42 seconds to go, and Tennessee is driving for a score.

For fifty-five minutes the two teams have battled on the gridiron. Sports writers had said it would be an offensive battle, but those sports writers were wrong.

Tonights battle has been a defensive battle. A gladiatorial contest between two teams that are among the best in the nation. Neither team giving the other much quarter.

There have been casualties along the way.

5 seconds into the start of the second half, Bubba Caldwell was carried off on a stretcher, his leg broken.

His season is over, but the Gators season is just beginning.

The Gators are in the lead, 16 to 7, but they've been down this path before. In 1994 they saw a 28 point lead evaporate and had to settle for a tie against their most hated in state rivals. The "Choke in Doak" is still considered by many fans one of the worst moments in Florida football.

Tennessee has also been in this situation before. Last year, in a contest against this same Florida team, they were behind in the fourth quarter. But that Tennessee team was able achieve victory as the Gator defense collapsed.

Tennessee had won the previous three encounters, and twice they were behind in the fourth quarter but still managed to emerge victorious.

Would tonight be a repeat? Would this Gator Defense crumble and fold in the final few moments of the game like Gator Defenses of years past?

This drive could make all of the difference between redemption for the gators, or salvation for the volunteers.

But something is different.

A long forgotten scent is in the air wafting through the stands.

It is a scent that tickles a part of the reptilian brain.

The Gator Nation stirs with recognition of the scent.

It is the smell of blood. Tennessee blood.

90,716 fans smell it, and it drives them into a frenzy.

Exhausted fans drenched in the sweat from a hot and humid evening are driven into an orgiastic moving mass of bodies; the stadium erupts as the fans unite as one.

The Gators Growl.

The Tennessee quarterback can't communicate with his players. He can't gather his concentration. He can't even hear himself think.

The noise is unbearable.

My ears feel as if they are about to burst from the sound, yet caught up in the frenetic energy around me, I ignore the pain and shout with all of my might until my voice is hoarse. Fans are stomping up and down on the bleachers, shouting, screaming, singing, and crying with joy.

The stadium is transformed into an ancient colliseum with the fans shouting for their triumphant Cesar.

Feeding on the raw energy from the stands, the Gator Defense holds on, stops the drive, and hands the ball back to the offense.

Five minutes later the entire city erupts as the streak is broken.

The Swamp is reborn. Only the Gators Get Out Alive.

As I walk back to my bike to head home, I get caught up in the moment and shout with my fellow fans "It's Great to be a Florida Gator!"

Posted at: 19:33 on 18/09/2005   [ /diary ] #


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