State wasn't taking on a stellar program; the I-AA Spiders won just two games a season ago. But that's just the point. There was hardly an empty seat anywhere to be found inside Carter-Finley Stadium ... for a game against Richmond ... a game that the Pack would win going away ... on Labor Day weekend, the last chance for many families to hit the beach one final time for the summer.
Despite those elements, which in the past would've
equaled generous attendance estimates of around 45,000
or so, the mood and atmosphere inside Carter-Finley
was the kind you would expect for a much bigger game -
such as when the Ohio State Buckeyes come to town next
Unfortunately, the highlights of the evening -
beautiful weather, a capacity crowd, accuracy and
poise by QB Jay Davis, yet another blocked punt, a
solid defensive effort, etc. - were disastrously
marred by the tragedy that took place outside the
stadium before the game ever began.
By now, almost everyone within the state, and many
folks across the country, know that two young men were
shot and killed while tailgating before the
State-Richmond game. While reports seem to be
conflicting on what exactly led up to the shootings,
we do know this: Several very poor decisions were made
by a handful of folks, snowballing and eventually
resulting into an excruciatingly awful outcome. Now
two lives are over, and the lives of many - not just
those of Tony and Timothy Johnson, the two brothers
accused of the slayings, but also those of their
alleged accessories after the fact, family members and
friends - have been altered forever.
If there is a positive from the tragedy it is that no
children were seriously injured or killed. If reports
are true that Tony Johnson was driving recklessly and
speeding through the fairgrounds parking lot, which is
a dangerously clogged place in which to drive even at
a safe speed, then it is comforting to know that
someone's little boy or girl wasn't run over while
tossing a football around before the game. It is also
a positive that no one else was shot when Johnson and
his brother returned with a gun later on. For that, we
should all be thankful. That doesn't, however, negate
the fact that now there are two sons gone forever and
two brothers that may be going away for a very long
time. And all over some short-sighted, extremely
ACC Rankings - One Man's Opinion
1. Miami: Hurricanes have owned the Seminoles in
recent years, and that trend should continue.
2. Florida State: FSU needs to shake off the ghosts of
games past with "U."
3. Maryland: Terps did it again: A Fridge Era staple
has been winning the close games.
4. Virginia: Boy, Marques Hagans sure quieted the
skeptics - for one game, at least.
5. NC State: Boy, Jay Davis sure quieted the skeptics
- for one game at least.
6. Clemson: Ultra-hyped Tigers got a "wake"-up call
from the Deacs.
7. Virginia Tech: Hokies can show the ACC and the
nation that hanging with USC wasn't a fluke.
8. Wake Forest: Jim Grobe may prepare his team better
than any other in the ACC.
9. Georgia Tech: A win at Clemson could do wonders for
the Jackets' confidence - and would earn Tech some
10. North Carolina: A good performance in
Charlottesville (a hall of horrors for UNC) could help
people forget that the Heels were a few plays away
from losing to William & Mary.
11. Duke: Blue Devils already looking forward to that
date with UNC.
This Week's Games
Florida State at Miami (Friday): The 'Canes probably
want this one to - again - come down to a field goal.
Don't be surprised if it does come down to a kick;
however, let's go with ...
Miami 28, Wide Right U. 21
Duke at Connecticut: The perception out there (by
some, maybe a few) may be that Duke should win this
one. But anyone who has watched the Huskies' program
grow over the past few years will expect a different
UConn 42, Duke 21
Western Michigan at Virginia Tech: Bryan Randall and
the Hokies looked better than expected against
defending national champs Southern Cal. This time
around, the Hokies will look all-world.
VPI & SU 34, WMU 10
North Carolina at Virginia: Once again, it will be up
to the UNC offense to carry the load. Unfortunately
for the Heels, UVa's weapons are just as explosive.
And Virginia's defense is a tad more stout than W&M's.
Wahoos 32, Heels 21
Temple at Maryland: The Owls have a week to correct
what went wrong at Virginia. They need a little more
Jim Henson's alma mater 45, Bill Cosby's alma mater
Wake Forest at East Carolina: The Demon Deacons can
respond after a devastating loss at Clemson. And East
Carolina, which gave up about a million yards on the
ground to West Virginia, is the perfect place to do
Wake 27, ECU 14
Georgia Tech at Clemson: Wake probably didn't do Tech
a favor by taking Clemson to the wire on Saturday. The
Tigers should be nice and prepared.
Clemson 27, Georgia Tech 13
Prognostication Record So Far (based on picking the
correct winner only):
Lail: An Explosive Beginning to an Explosive Night
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