NC State tailgaters return to game after coach’s criticism

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 7, 2013 

A week after N.C. State coach Dave Doeren questioned the loyalty of his fan base after many decided not to return in the second half, the Wolfpack’s disappointing play against Richmond on Saturday had some fans wondering if they should remain in the parking lot again.

There was no shortage of Wolfpack faithful in the parking lot at halftime, but the real question remained – would they return?

Whether it was the cooler temperature for a night game, a more competitive football game or the comments N.C. State coach Dave Doeren made following the home opener, most fans made their way back to the stadium shortly after the second half kickoff.

Gary Massey, who was parked just outside of the stadium and returned to his car during halftime, believes Doeren’s comments should make fans more willing to return to their seats.

“If anything, (Doeren)’s comments encouraged me to go back in,” Massey said. “And have the spirit to tough it out, regardless of the weather or situation.”

As for others, some fans like Jordan Kirk still see the halftime festivities as a way to continue the tailgate and interact with other fans.

“I support the Wolfpack fully, but you’ve got to understand this is a social event as well,” Jordan Kirk said. “My wife and I are members of the Student Wolfpack Club and we support them, but we’re going to go out for halftime.

“We usually go back in the stadium and if it wasn’t hotter than all get out last game, we would have gone back in.”

Kirk also added, “I’m in full support of keeping things the way they are because I know people are always going to go back in. State fans are loyal and they were there every time O’Brien was getting his butt whooped. Why wouldn’t they be there now?”

Fans who did return to their seats watched a fourth-quarter comeback that ended with a thrilling kick from Niklas Sade to win the game, 23-21, and move the Pack to 2-0.

Doeren said he thought the comments he made last week were a bit overblown and that he “loves the fans.” Apart from the fans not being in the stands irking him, he wanted the crowd to return more for his players.

“The ‘Walk of Champions’ is so special and the first half last week was so big time for our guys,” Doeren said. “I was just praying to get it again in the second half. I mean, that’s all I asked for. I wasn’t calling anyone out, I was just asking for more.

“We got that tonight, that’s for sure.”

The second half attendance made for a special moment at the conclusion of the game when Sade booted the 48-yard field goal to win it.

The swing late in the game brought the crowd back into the game, Doeren said, and helped his team fight through adversity.

“We got everybody back into it in the second half and that was awesome,” Doeren said. “That environment was tremendous. I definitely appreciated that.”

Smith: 919-829-4841; @RCorySmith

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