Staffers reflect on years of Spartans sports memories
Four SN seniors describe their two favorite sports memories while at MSU:
Jon Schultz, Sports Editor
1. MSU football vs. Michigan, Oct. 1, 2005: Domata Peko’s 74-yard fumble return touchdown
After sleeping in Spartan Stadium’s parking lot the night before in order to get good seats, I was running on pure adrenaline by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. Three quarters of cheering made my vocal cords run dry. But this was the big game, and MSU was down 31-24 with about seven minutes left. U-M quarterback Chad Henne took the snap and got hit while cocking his arm back to pass and fumbled the football. Then defensive lineman Domata Peko, in all his orange-haired glory, swoops in and scoops up the ball, trucks 74 yards into the end zone after leaping over a falling Mike Hart at the goal line. Spartan Stadium erupted with madness, and the mosh pit in the student section rivaled that of one at the punk rock festival Warped Tour. I shouted so hard I literally couldn’t speak for a couple of days.
2. MSU football vs. Notre Dame, Sept. 22, 2007: Spartans defeat Notre Dame 31-14, giving them their worst start in school history
As an MSU student and football reporter, I experienced some moments that really made it hard to stifle my school pride and not be a fan in order to remain objective. This was one of those times. The Fighting Irish were off to a terrible start and were on the brink of their worst start in the school’s 119-year history. There were two minutes left in the game when fellow reporter Zack Colman and I made our way onto the field. The Spartans just won, and shivers ran through me as we walked alongside the players in the tunnel as they shouted “Go Green! Go White!”
Michelle Ortlieb, Assistant Copy Chief
1.The first half of MSU vs. North Carolina in the Final Four, April 2, 2005
Yes, I know this game ended with the Spartans getting blown out by North Carolina. But the first half? It was incredible. I wish I had a better word to describe it. As a freshman, I traveled to St. Louis in hopes of watching my team win the national championship. The atmosphere during that first half was indescribable. I don’t think I stopped jumping up and down for even a second. After every basket, I was hugging and high-fiving fellow Spartans who I didn’t even know — and strangely enough, it wasn’t weird. They were people I wouldn’t wave to if I passed them on Farm Lane, but since we shared those bleachers, we were family. Everyone in that student section was united by our beloved Spartans, and even though our team lost (I cried the whole way back to our hotel), it was by far the most electric atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of.
2. MSU beats Notre Dame in overtime, plants flag on field, Sept. 17, 2005
Now, I love the Spartans, but I cannot for the life of me watch a game, regardless of the sport, when it gets too close to handle, or when I fear MSU could lose. This was one of those games. I spent a lot of it hiding under a blanket, stressed to the max. As the offspring of two MSU alums, I’ve been bleeding green long enough to know that an MSU game is never in the bag, and that I can’t just sit back and trust any of our teams to pull out a win (basketball is sometimes the exception). But when Jason Teague went on a 19-yard run for the win in overtime, I couldn’t have been happier. The only fans I dislike more than U-M fans are quite possibly those from Notre Dame. When the Spartans planted the flag on the 35-yard line, I was so proud of our boys, and proud to be a Spartan.
David Ingold, Design Editor
1. MSU football vs. No. 4 Wisconsin, Nov. 13, 2004: MSU crushes undefeated Badgers 49-14 to keep bowl hopes alive
Freshman year, I worked security at the home football games. I never had the chance to witness a whole lot of the on-field action, but there were a few security posts where you could catch most of the game. I was assigned one of those positions when we hosted an undefeated Wisconsin team. I remember it being absolutely freezing that day. Expecting a loss, I actually recall wishing I could have a nice, warm post somewhere in the bowels of Spartan Stadium. As luck would have it, I was stationed at the absolute top of the student section and prepared myself for the worst. But that day something special happened, and I, along with the 76,000 brave souls in attendance, watched MSU absolutely destroy Wisconsin. I’ve never cheered as hard as I did that day, and it resulted in my getting really sick, but being out there in the freezing cold with the rest of the students, watching the Spartans knock off the No. 4 team in the nation is one memory that’ll stay with me forever.
2. Appalachian State vs. No. 5 U-M Sept. 1, 2007: Michigan loses its first game of the season 42-34 to a I-AA team
It was the first game of the season and MSU was well on its way to beating UAB. The final score ended up 55-18, but by the fourth quarter there was an even bigger story brewing. In Ann Arbor, Michigan was losing to Appalachian State, a I-AA team who decided to show up to play against the No. 5 Wolverines. I remember rushing into Buffalo Wild Wings with my roommates to catch the fourth quarter. When Appalachian State blocked the final U-M field-goal attempt to seal the victory, the whole bar erupted into cheers and high-fives. I think we even sang the MSU fight song. We would later go on to lose a heartbreaker to U-M ourselves, but watching Appalachian State hand the Wolverines that loss was almost worth it and something I’ll never let my U-M friends forget.
Margaret Harding, Multimedia Editor
1. Hands down, my best personal sports memory is when the MSU hockey team beat Michigan in Yost Ice Arena this year.
The place was packed with Maize — mainly because they handed out free T-shirts right before the game to make the fans seem more unified. But all they could do was sit in shock while the maybe eight MSU fans in our section stood up and sang the fight song for the MSU win. I don’t think victory has ever been sweeter.
2. The team’s run up to the national championship and its win over Boston College was amazing.
I don’t think anyone thought they would make it that year, but somehow, there they were, but they were losing. I’m not a sports writer, so I can’t really capture the excitement of the game, but to try and convey it: I was watching with my boyfriend at his house. His dad was in the other room when MSU scored the winning goal. I was so excited I screamed “Dad! We scored!” As embarrassing as that continues to be for me, the win is still one of my favorite sports memories.