Tag Archives: Reliant Stadium

Battling Expectations

Our tickets

Our tickets

The last time I wrote about Sam Houston State football, the Mister and I were not watching the SHSU Family Weekend game. The weather had conspired against us, unfortunately, and we opted to spend more time with our younger son instead of sitting on the wet bleachers after a long lightning and storm delay.

Still wanting to see the Kats in action as well as, hopefully, our beloved personal Bearkat, I bought two tickets to the annual Battle of the Piney Woods clash last Saturday at Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans). This time any rain would be a moot point due to the retractable roof.

Tickets only were sold for the lower bowl (26,000 attended).

Reliant is an impressive stadium.

Fortunately, it was a spectacular fall day, and the roof was open. The Mister and I settled into our seats near the end zone and prepared for a shootout. Before this season, we didn’t know much about the intense rivalry between SHSU and nearby Stephen F. Austin State University, home of the Lumberjacks (as in “axe ’em, Jacks!”), now in its 88th year. We may be hicks from the sticks, but our sticks are bigger than Huntsville and Nacogdoches.

Big head or little hat? Or both?

Big head or little hat? Or both?

I had read that when these two teams meet, the scoreboard operator is busy. No kidding! SFA quarterback Brady Attaway (great last name!) is the nation’s second-best passer. In this game, his impressive stats included 505 passing yards and five touchdowns. Add about 240 rushing yards, and you’ve got a boatload of offense.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

However, the Bearkats aren’t too shabby when they have the ball either. Quarterback Brian Bell accounted for 339 passing yards and four touchdowns. The team gained 218 yards, too.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

In the end, the Jacks’ four turnovers in their first four possessions in the fourth quarter doomed them, despite an impressive, late rally. The Kats won 56-49 and lead the series 51-35-2. Way to eat ’em up, Kats!

Our son should be here somewhere.

The kid should be somewhere among the orange.

And what about our son? For some reason he decided he’d rather sleep late and stay on campus rather than root for his team and see his loving parents. He missed out on a thrilling victory, while the Mister and I didn’t get the chance to spend time with him.

Guess you can’t win them all.

Oskee-Wow-Wow, Illinois!

The American flag was in the shape of Texas.

Yesterday I enjoyed the best football game I’ve ever watched in person—my alma mater, the University of Illinois, defeated Baylor University in the Texas Bowl 38-14! It was an incredible game at Houston’s Reliant Stadium . . . for Fighting Illini fans.

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hands off to Jason Ford.

The Mister and I were fortunate that we watched the game from our company’s regular Houston Texans’ seats, which are 14 rows from the field on the 35-yard line. We had a great view of all the action, plus (bonus!) we were on the Illinois side, which meant we were pretty much surrounded by the Illini faithful.

Illinois has very strong cheerleaders!

Still, Baylor’s green and gold blanketed the stadium. There are a ton of proud Baylor alums in the Houston area, which is fairly close to Waco. Probably 90 percent of the crowd were fervent Bears supporters, and they were vocal . . . for awhile.

Illinois’ Block I flag moves along the sidelines after an Illini touchdown.

Fortunately, we had a spirited cheerleading corps to unite the Illini fans, as well as each other in the stands. Of course, it helped that we had a lot of great plays to cheer about! Illinois definitely brought its “A” game to the Texas Bowl, while turnover-prone Baylor had trouble getting its running game on track.

Part of the Marching Illini forms one of the “L’s” in the ILLINI formation.

My favorite part of the Texas Bowl—besides the final score, of course—was watching the Marching Illini at halftime. When they were in the stands, the band not only kept our spirits high with great songs, but they also led our trademark “I-L-L . . . I-N-I” cheer. On the field, they filled Reliant with rousing music that threatened to blow open the roof!

When the band formed the letters I L L I N I and played “Hail to the Orange,” I got goosebumps as I proudly sang along with my small orange-clad “family.” Yes, it was a great day to be a Fighting Illini alum in Houston! Oskee-wow-wow!

Rooting On the Houston Texans

Reliant Stadium, home of our Houston Texans

Last Sunday we decided to have a small, intimate, family outing . . . along with, oh, 71,000 other noisy people. We traveled to the “big city” (aka, Houston) to root on our Houston Texans in their NFL season finale. The opponent? The always-tough New England Patriots.

Sidebar: Our family’s company has had season tickets since the Texans were born back in 2002 out of the ashes of the Houston Oilers, who were ripped from our fine city by a greedy owner. The last time we attended a Texans game as a family was in that inaugural season. The #2 son, a mere seven years old, hated the noise, and he and I spent most of the game on the mezzanine level watching the game on one of the overhead televisions. Since then, the Mister has taken one of the boys to a game each year (we usually only have two tickets, and others often claim them), while I’ve stayed home with the other one. But this time we had four tickets, and, hopefully, a great game to see!

It's never too cold for my shorts-loving guys!

The temperature was in the 40s when we got to the game, so I was extremely hopeful that the retractable roof would be closed. Mercifully, it was.

Down in front!

We have terrific seats—they’re 15 rows up and on the 35-yard line. But that means that sometimes the TV cameraperson is blocking our view.

New England’s Tom Brady hands off.

This was a key game for the Texans. A victory meant both their first winning season (a 9-7 record) and a chance to advance to the playoffs (which they didn’t, unfortunately). I checked the stadium’s rules for cameras and learned that lenses longer than 12 inches weren’t allowed. Even my beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens is shorter than that! However, I opted for Nikon’s 105mm and 50mm lenses—no chance to be hassled at the gate with those two pups.

The Texans’ Glover Quin and Brian Cushing make a crushing tackle!

I used the 105 in the first half, and it proved to be pretty capable (albeit not as great as those 600mm lenses the sideline photogs use; not as expensive either). It was great for stopping the action on this fine defensive play.

Head over heels!

And its aftermath!

Down in front II!

But it was frustrating having to shoot around and between the people who insisted on standing in front of me.

Down in front III

I wish I could’ve tied them to their seats! I also wish I could invent a crane system that would lift people out of their seats and deposit them on the mezzanine level, so they’d stop going back and forth in front of us (we always have to stand to let people get to the stairs). That would be a boon to stadium society!

Everything’s bigger in Texas!

The 105 also came in handy to document what life is like for the fans. Like with the food and drink vendors, who sport these huge buttons. Don’t need the reading glasses for these!

A sweet treat

A sweet treat

And especially the cotton candy vendor. The #1 son really honed in on him.

The #1 son enjoys his cotton candy.

#1 is a fervent cotton candy fan. When we would attend Houston Astros games when he was younger, the sweet treat would keep him quiet and happy for, oh, a good inning or two. He has more staying power these days, thank goodness, but he still enjoys that colorful tangle of sugar.

Looking funny coming and going!

I enjoyed seeing the fans who go all out for our team. It takes true devotion to completely paint your face in team colors, as well as wear some ugly face on the back of your head!

The #2 son likes to take photos, too.

Of course, what the outing was all about was having a memorable moment with my sons. We had fun being together and yelling for our home team.

And it sure didn’t hurt that the Texans won 34-27! We’re psyched for next season!!