To say that it was a rough end to Georgia Southern's football season would be an understatement.
The Eagles came up short by a 35-7 score against the North Dakota State Bison in Fargo Saturday afternoon, but it wasn't for lack of caring as tons of GSU fans gathered a r o u n d Statesboro to cheer on t h e i r beloved blue and white.
"I'm born and raised in Statesboro," said Eagle fan Ken Harville inside Loco's Bar and Grill before Saturday's game. "I'm extremely proud of everything that the team has accomplished this season.
We had a few down years lately, but it's great to see the team at the top again. It's great for the school and it's great for this town."
Spirits were high as the game kicked off. Even though the Eagles were playing half of a continent away, there was no shortage of GSU pride.
At Loco's the bar area was full and the televisions were running hours before kickoff.
Over at University Plaza, Retriever's was busting at the seams long before the opening whistle.
Even GSU students who were free to head back home after the final day of the semester Thursday were abundant. Many were ready for a hard-earned winter break, but were not about to leave town until they had cheered on their school one more time.
"I definitely wanted to stick around," said GSU senior Paul Vogel from his table on the deck at Retreivers. "I love going to all of the games, but unfortunately, a lot of people couldn't get up to North Dakota. I've got some friends on the team that I want to welcome back home and there were plenty more to watch [Saturday's game] with. This is definitely where I wanted to be."
Even the staffs that were busy working around town were aware of the gravity of the moment.
"It's kind of tough," said Matt Simons, who was busy working the door at Retreiver's in between stealing glances at the television.
"I've been in Statesboro my whole life and I love following Georgia Southern. "I'm impressed with how big of a crowd [Retriever's] had - especially considering that school let out this week. As a fan, it's tough. I need to do my job, but every other second, I'm checking the TV."
In the end, there wasn't a whole lot of action that encouraged the GSU faithful.
After a long, hard fought season, the Eagles picked a bad day to have a bad day.
But all bad outcomes aside, it was clear that the Eagles held a special place in GSU fans' hearts Saturday.
Coordinating through sites such as gsufans. com, viewing parties were held all over the state, including some GSU supporters staging parties as far away as Colorado, Connecticut, and New York City.
The end result wasn't what Eagle fans were hoping for this season, but there is - and will be - plenty of spirit to go around when GSU cleans off the pads and gets things started up again in 2012.