Thursday, November 09, 2006

Americana Tailgate, revisted

It was pitch black and very cold when our morning started for the 5th home game of the season and our 2nd diesel tailgate of 2006. We arrived at lot 13 at 0630 hrs. Our largest convey to date started at the 10th vehicle in line for the lot.

After a quick half hour of socializing in the dark, the lots were opened. The parking attendants did a horrible job of attempting to pack us in like sardines. No one wanted to park as close to us as they were directed. Lucky for us, we were able to throw out a few canopies to widen the gap. A few smart parkers in the first row didn’t pull all the way up to the fence until after the 2nd row had stopped. Official Stats
Total hours: 17
Guests: 80
Pounds of BBQ: 30 *
Donations: $186 *
Vehicles: 7 *
Hours driving
Vaughn home: 1.5 *
Words in this
newsletter: 3,259 *
* new records

As chairs and tables were set up, the kitchen was assembled. We put a little bit more thought and planning into the kitchen arrangement to keep hungry tailgaters out of the way of the cooks. It also allowed the cooks to see and enjoy the tailgate while helping out. The flag pole was set up last.

Elyses' brother and friends dropped off their giant boat-sized cooler and said they'll be back later. This park-bench-sized cooler was big enough to stuff a few bodies in, but it was filled with beer.

For some odd reason, one of the early morning parkers decided to leave before our setup was complete. This opened up a space for the fire place on the other side of the aisle.

Beth, Carter and Julia cooked an assortment of breakfast meats. Mad and Suz sat out a collection of muffins. Chris’ Ma brought 2 of her famous apple pies too. Mimosas were passed around, and the first batch of hard cider was heated up.

The sun came out and the temperature began to rise as the morning hours passed. We were greeted by blue skies.

Chris and I played the first game of polish horseshoes. Chris’s winning streak remains intact at 1000-1. Then we played Team CT (Rob and Chris) vs Team Hawaii (Carter and Jessie) Chris had to break out the new “Put on your diesel tailgate game face hand signal” when some people (Rob) couldn’t keep from being distracted by shiny objects (THA PSU Co-eds) To do this hand signal, start with your hand in front of your face with palm away. Pivot the hand away from the thumb while pulling down slightly. When the palm is facing you, curl the fingers as if grabbing the face mask of a helmet and make your game face. Grrr! You’ve got it.

The beginning of the end of Vaughn’s day was when he funneled 3 scalding hot glasses of hard apple cider. It just went downhill from there.

For the early lunch, Mad and Suz set up the "make your own barbecue" station including BBQ sauces of America TM + slaw (creamy and spicy), pickles, cheese, onions, bacon bits, heated up pulled pork and chicken. Chris K grilled up one “brick” of beef brisket to complete the meat trifecta.

Just before the noon kickoff, Alumni and students were dazzled with a helicopter fly-over which honored “LifeLion”, PSU’s medivac, 20 years of service without a single crash. From our seats in the south end zone, we were able to do quite a bit of leaf peeping. All of Happy Valley was decked out in reds, browns and oranges.

The offense looked promising during the first drive, but failed to get it in the end zone and had to settle for a 49-yard field goal. After that the first drive, the offense remained dormant for the rest of the game. The Fighting Illini raised their lead to 9-3 by half time.

The combined half-time show feature the blue band and alumni band’s renditions of modern dance songs, such as YMCA. Fans were really impressed by Blue sapphire PJ Maierhofer as well as several alumni feature twirlers.

In the second half, the defense turned things around. Anthony Scirrotto (#7) intercepted a long pass and returned it to midfield. Our offense went 3 and out on the following drive, but Jeremy Kapinos (#36) punted the ball to the Illini 2 yard line. The Illini didn’t give up the safety that the student section wanted, but were forced to punt. It was returned to the IL-34 to set up the offense’s only touchdown of the day. This put PSU in the lead for the first time.

A few minutes later, Paul Posluszny (#31) sacked “Juice” William and knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovery by Tony Davis (#11) and ran in for a touch down. This raised the score to 17-9.

In the 4th quarter, the Illini were able to drive far enough to score 3 more points. Late in the quarter, “Juice” was sacked again and the ball was fumbled. Josh Gaines (#47) picked it up with dreams of the end zone. The crowd was going nuts. Unfortunately, Gaines was tackled and fumbled at the IL-11. Illinois recovered it. With the crowd back in the game, the defense was able to get a safety during the Illini’s next drive. Even the announcer was getting too excited, saying things like “and that brings up 4th DOWNNNNNN”.

With the score 19-12 and time quickly running out, the Illini attempted an on-side kick. All of the Illini overran the kick and it was scooped up by a wide open Anthony Scirrotto (#7). A quick 29-yard dash raised the score to its final mark of 26-12. Anthony later said, “To be honest, I saw this huge hole. No one was going to get me down; I wasn’t going to let anybody. I wanted to score big time. It was exciting.”

Penn State 26 Illinois 12

The game concluded with the ringing of the Victory bell, a gift from the class of 1978.

Penn State recorded its first safety since last season’s Orange Bowl against Florida State. It was the first safety in a regular season game for the Lions since Penn State had two safeties against Iowa in a 4-6 loss on Homecoming 2004 (HC4).

Paterno was not happy with the offense’s poor performance. In the post game interview, he said, “No, we’re just lousy. Can I get that across? It’s spelled l-o-u-s-y.”

Post game, Chris’s Ma and I wandered to the north end zone to watch Drum corner. It was quite an impressive show. After the entire drum line played, each section (snares, basses, cymbals and tenor) put on a show of their own.

Back at the tailgate, the afternoon temperature peaked at 60. Skies were sunny. Food was rolled out in mass quantities. The all of the BBQ was heated up again to feed hungry tailgaters. Chris fired up some sausage grillers, and I made a handful of bacon-cheddar burgers and had to chase Tim away who was camped out right in front of grill.

Matt called ahead to make sure that the deep fryer was heated up when he got back to the tailgate. He made just about everything in the deep fryer including: pierogies, cheese sticks, cheese and cream cheese poppers, corn dogs, Freedom toast sticks, blooming onions, turkey, breaded chicken bites, chicken wings, and freedom fries. Mad and Suz bought us the blooming onion kit, but unfortunately, they didn’t come out right this time. We’ll get ‘em right next time.

Shelley and Nick heated up some home-made pepperoni bread on the grill. It was so good.

This is about the time that Vaughn funnels 6-8 shots of Jagermeister at once. He chased it with a Busch pounder funnel.

While the turkey was cooking, the group photo was taken. This tailgate’s group photo was around the fireplace with the stadium in the background.

One of Chris’s favorite moments was when Suzanne asked Matt if he wanted a serving tray for some of the fried foods he was making after seeing him just keep dumping them into the same foil pan on the ground. Matt pointed to the group of savages huddled around the pan chowing down like they had never been fed before. He said, “No, I think we will be OK.”

The afternoon musical excitement continued. Carter’s stereo/car continues to be the loudest thing out there. He played a good mix of just about everything all day long. He even played thriller, which has been a huge hit since the Nittany Lion did it last season. With new hook-ups, he was even able to connect Kevin’s I-pod directly into the setup. Things were going pretty well, until Vaughn decided that he didn’t like the country music and decided to change it himself.

After spending much time trying to guess what he actually does for a living, Kelly found out that Vaughn works at Long John Silvers. She was giving him shit for not bringing any hush puppies. Vaughn said that he didn’t think anyone actually liked them, or that they would eat them with all of the other good food around. Apparently hush puppies are a lot more popular than he thought. A drunken Nick was taunting a very drunken Vaughn when he said "You're like a little leprechaun that nobody f***ing likes." This was a best quote all day. Then Vaughn proceeded to funnel a mixture of Carolina’s Irish Cream and Merlot and get even more fired up.

As evening descended after the Penn State victory, folks settled around the fireplace. There was an ever changing circle of people in the chairs around the fireplace and the ring of vultures ready to swarm on a seat when someone got up. Matt and his team loaded up his dad’s heavy Chevy and did a huge smoke show for the kids (FTK) especially Chris who kept yelling light ‘em up.

After we returned from our adventure, the few remaining tailgaters helped pack up and take it home at 2330 hrs.

Thanks to everyone who made it out to this tailgate. It’s always great to see old friends and make new friends. There were plenty of new faces out there. Many people were also excited to bring out their favorite foods for the next tailgate.

I’m sad that this is our last Diesel tailgate for the season. It’s been a great October to watch Penn State football. If you happen to be in town for any of the remaining home games, drop Mad & Suz a line.

We’ll see everyone out there again for Blue/White. My guess is that it will be April 21, 2007.

For the Glory,
Tailgating Coordinator

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