GA News: OnlineAthens - A different kind of game day for fans, teams

TideFans Reporter

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Sep 21, 2006
October 9th, 2016 07:27 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. | When the parking lots opened up at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds outside Williams-Brice Stadium Sunday morning, it was apparent this was no ordinary game day.
There was no steady stream of vehicles, only sporadic.
Hosting Georgia would have been a marquee game for South Carolina, but Hurricane Matthew forced the game to be pushed back a day.
“This ain’t South Carolina-Georgia football right now,” said David Jones of Fort Bragg, N.C., a parking lot attendant. “It’s a Southern tradition. Friday night we’re at a Friday night football game. Saturday’s college and Sunday morning we’re at church. At 9:45, we’re not at Williams-Brice waiting for a South Carolina-Georgia football game, but hey, we’re here and we’re going to make it happen.”
Instead of traffic being backed up, it was still free flowing an hour before a game that Georgia won 28-14.
A reporter who has covered South Carolina since 1993 said it was the lightest traffic he ever experienced for a game.
South Carolina announced the attendance of 77,221 but it may have been 10,000 less than that but Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said the crowd was “great today.”
Andy Sorrells from Grayson and Philip Mitchell of Brookhaven, both 2009 UGA graduates, were tailgating bright and early at a parking lot off George Rogers Blvd. They left Gwinnett County at 4 a.m. to make the drive to Columbia and arrived at about 7 a.m.
A couple of hours later, Mitchell had a Miller Lite in hand and Sorrells a Bud Lite, but fans had to wait until less than 48 hours before this game was originally scheduled to be played to learn about the decision to play on Sunday.
“We were a little nervous, on edge, anxious I guess, kind of just waiting,” Mitchell said. “We were constantly texting each other and then when they said it was Sunday, there was never any doubt we were going, it was just OK, how are we going to change our plans up.”
They didn’t have hotel reservations, but still were waiting and waiting for updates on when the game would be played. That finally came Thursday night.
“It was just crazy, but the whole week my productivity at work was super low,” Sorrells said. “Just checking all the time to see what’s going on. Every five minutes I felt I was refreshing internet pages.”
As for the teams, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he thought South Carolina had to deal with it more than his team because of so many players on the Gamecocks with families affected by what he said was a “tough situation.”
For Georgia, the biggest difference was simply having an extra day to get ready for the game, Smart said.
Cornerback Malkom Parrish said the team learned Thursday night on a group text about the game moving to Sunday. He was happy that the team wouldn’t have to deal with a possibly wet field Saturday night.
The team stayed on campus at South Carolina at the federal National Advocacy Center so it wouldn’t displace hurricane evacuees.
Athletic director Greg McGarity called the place “exceptional” on Georgia’s pregame radio show.
Running back Nick Chubb, who rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, called it “different. It was very, very nice. I am very appreciative that we could stay somewhere here. We had our own rooms, which was nice.”
Muschamp said he appreciated the Gamecock fans “coming out. I wish we had played better and given them a better show.”


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