The official end of fall

So our beloved Bearcats lost last night.

No championship game this year. No road trip to Alabama.


Things were looking so good, too. With all of their dramatics these last few weeks, they had us thinking this was another team of destiny.

Despite the bone-freezing temperatures in Minnesota -- game-time temp was nine degrees with a wind chill of 15 below -- the 'Cats appeared to be playing tightly.

Then an interception late in the game. And they missed a splendid opportunity to sack the opposing quarterback and put the game away on a 4th-and-2 with 4:12 left in the game. The quarterback instead eluded would-be tacklers and ran 34 yards for a touchdown. Which ultimately put the game away for his team. We lost 17-13.

The loss aside, it's been a thrilling season -- and a welcome distraction in our challenging fall.

To appease our fans who couldn't make the trek to Minnesota for last night's game, the school hosted a watch party in our student union. Big screen TVs. Snacks. Door prizes. And vouchers for meal deals at the Papa John's Pizza downstairs.

When I arrived to help set up about a half hour before game time, there was a large crowd waiting outside the door. As the game got underway, we estimated about 350 people crammed into the room.

And what an atmosphere. There was nowhere else I would have wanted to watch the game. ... Students were leading chants and cheers, and mimicking the pep band's songs, as if we were at our stadium a short walk away. The crowd erupted in cheers when our players had a good play, and they roared with boos and jeers when we didn't.

Kates and Phoebe -- dressed in their Bearcat gear -- joined me shortly after the game started and jumped right into the party. ... During those final minutes, we were holding on to our hats -- and hearts -- just as tightly as everyone else in the room while the Cardiac 'Cats tried to pin down one more comeback.

But it wasn't meant to be. Dejection set it.

The fans quickly filed from the room, and we hung around to help with the cleanup.

Then we bundled ourselves, wrapped Phoebe like a mitten in her blanket and pushed into the parking lot. With the first snow of the season blowing around us and a wicked cold wind slamming our faces, we hurried to our cars and head home.

The fall is over. Winter is officially here.

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