A “hard to believe we’re here” moment | Heart of Dallas

A “hard to believe we’re here” moment

By Phil Collin, www.theheartofdallasbowl.com

Rolling up to the stadium, seeing the iconic Cotton Bowl sign on the west side of the venerable stadium was one of those “hard to believe we’re here” moments.

Having seen that sign my whole life as a football fan watching on television, it was pretty cool. I wasn’t prepared for the next jarring moment, however.

Stepping out of the elevator into the press box, the mammoth stadium unfolded before me. The 92,000 empty seats surrounding the green grass, the painted end zones under high sky-blue Texas sky was a pretty awesome sight.

It was easy to imagine Oklahoma and Texas fans cramming their way for the bitter Red River Showdown on a sweltering September Saturday.

Covering the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl wasn’t going to quite reach that level of fanaticism, but Texas is always ready for football and the game between emerging teams like Washington and Southern Mississippi carried intrigue.

The Huskies scored a 44-31 win behind two true freshmen. Running back Myles Gaskin scored four touchdowns and was named the MVP, and quarterback Jake Browning provided a glimpse of what Coach Chris Petersen and the Huskies are going to build around in Seattle.

For much of the game, Southern Miss receiver Michael Thomas was the best player on the field, catching nine passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. It was a bit disappointing (certainly for Golden Eagles fans) that Southern Miss couldn’t complete its 1,000-yard running back tandem since leading rusher Jalen Richard was forced the miss the game with a shoulder injury.

Southern Miss could rack up only 22 yards rushing. Gaskin broke the game open with a tiebreaking 86-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Less than an hour after the game, though, we were forced out of the press box as a massive thunderstorm hit. The tornado warning sirens wailed as anyone left in the building scurried for the lower parts of the stadium.

The devastating twisters left 11 dead in the Dallas County area and is a reminder to us all that even in Texas, there is more than football. In a bowl game dedicated to the area’s First Responders, it was a sobering experience.