Maroon and orange was a welcome sight in the midst of navy blue, white, and grey on Thursday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Virginia Tech beat Pitt 39-36 in a nerve-racking back and forth game, and the Hokie fans who were present received the satisfaction of waving out the Pitt fans who had heckled us mercilessly.
My fellow Hokie, Sean Pruden, and I skipped Thursday and Friday classes to attend this game in our home state and for me, home city. With many friends from high school attending Pitt, Sean and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch the game close up with them. On the drive up, since we were dressed in maroon and orange, we were approached by a few West Virginians who lent their support to the Hokies. Even though they don’t normally care about Hokie football, they cared about Pitt’s defeat and we bonded with them over our wishes for the game’s outcome.
After arriving and circling the North Shore for parking (driving in Pittsburgh is the worst), we trekked to Heinz field amongst hundreds of Pitt fans flocking to the stadium. Every once in a while, there would be a maroon or orange sweatshirt or jacket near us, and without fail, conversation would ensue. We saw fewer students than adults, but there were plenty of Hokies present to call to one another “Go Hokies!” and “Let’s Go!” My personal favorite alums were three very intoxicated men in their mid-60’s standing together inside the stadium yelling “Jump! Jump! Jump!” as they tried to pull other Hokies into their huddle.
Once we made a few new friends with older generations and a few enemies with the Pitt fans around us, Sean and I found ourselves in the middle of the Pitt student section. Taking a quick survey around, we noticed that most of the maroon and orange were spread out around the stadium, but we still managed to exchange head nods and cheers with the handful of Hokies in our section. Our Pitt friends heckled us along with the rest of the student section, but we were closer to the field than we’ve been in Lane Stadium, had a few other Hokies to cheer with, and enjoyed watching good football throughout those four, cold hours.
One of my favorite things about being in that student section was hearing the Pitt fans around me scream “Are you kidding me?! How did he catch that?!” in admiration and frustration each time Isaiah Ford caught the ball. My least favorite thing was hearing the announcers call Virginia Tech “Virginia.” Not our name, people. That’s a different school entirely.
As the game progressed, more and more Pitt fans began to filter out, and more and more maroon and orange were exposed. By the 4th quarter, it seemed as if every Hokie was glued to their seat, anxious and excited, while many Pitt fans trickled out, somewhat less interested. The Pitt students in our section who had laughed at us before were either significantly quieter or gone all together, and Sean and I waved them goodbye as they walked past us. After the game ended in our favor and the remaining student section walked out of the stadium, we were all united, Pitt and Virginia Tech, chanting a not-very-nice cheer about another huge football school *cough Penn State cough cough*. For two Hokies in Pitt Panther territory, Thursday night was an awesome game to go to.