Boston College Football is a tradition in my family. My father has announced all but two home games since before I was born. So when I came to Georgetown, it was understood each time BC played at Navy, 34 miles away, in Annapolis, Md. My parents would combine visiting me with a trip to the game.

Last Saturday morning, I didn’t think we’d even make it to Annapolis. We took the wrong exit off the Beltway and were practically in Baltimore before we realizing our error. The traffic on Route 50 entering the city didn’t help either – we crawled on the highway and city streets for about 45 minutes before reaching our parking spot, at a Lutheran church outside the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

I’d expected a madhouse – a stadium full of rabid fans waving American flags and sporting red, white and blue face paint as had been the case at many Major League Baseball stadiums last Monday and Tuesday. After all, this was the first college football weekend since the attack, and of all places I figured Annapolis would show its colors more than any other school.

It wasn’t as apparent as I’d thought. Perhaps this was because things had somewhat settled back down – baseball had been played for about a week, so it wasn’t as if sports were just beginning their post-attack return. Tailgate parties were the same as they’d always been – fans and alumni toasted their respective teams and kids tossed Nerf footballs around the parking lot. Yes, there were more American flags than at a typical BC game, but having never been to Annapolis prior to Saturday, I can’t say whether or not that’s normal at the USNA.

The security at the game was intense, but nothing unexpected. We stood in line for at least 30 minutes (which would have been more had my uncle not saved us a space) and were required to pass through metal detectors and have our bags checked. A pair of machine-gun carrying marines guarded the scoreboard pavilion at the stadium’s north end.

Prior to the kickoff, the Midshipmen (the USNA student body) paraded onto the field, a ceremony typical of each service academy. The crowd vehemently applauded as they finished their assembly and took their seats. The national anthem wasn’t as rousing as I’d imagined it would be. While more fans than usual sang along, it was hardly a forceful rendition because the majority of the 30,064 patrons were still trickling through the gates. The most energizing aspect of the pre-game ceremony was the finale: a flyover by four F-5 fighters from Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada.

The game was a typical offensive football game. The BC defense was particularly unimpressive – for a team slated to face Notre Dame, Miami and Virginia Tech in the coming months, the Eagles failed to hold the Mids on several key third- and fourth-down sequences. The 38-21 BC victory was made possible by a pair of interceptions, both of which Navy quarterback Brian Madden could have easily avoided. He threw the first directly to BC linebacker Vinny Ciurciu and the second into traffic, again into Ciurciu’s hands.

After the game, however, the more moving ceremonies began. The teams shook hands and BC cornerback Trevor White led both teams in a prayer. Following that, Midshipman first class Gary Roznovsky led the fans and players in “God Bless America.” Before departing for the locker rooms, each school stood at attention for the playing of their respective “Alma Maters.” As the players and fans exited, Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” was played on the loudspeakers.

Though the game – especially the pre-game ceremony – was more emotionally toned down than I’d thought it would be, downtown Annapolis was quite abuzz. “Never forget September 11, 2001” T-shirts were everywhere and American Flags were draped out windows. Nonetheless, I never got the feeling that locals, especially those affiliated with the military, were angry about the recent tragedy or imminent struggle. Especially patriotic, yes. But particularly irate, no.

The USNA campus, however, remained closed to visitors. Understandable, yet disappointing.

Matt Burke is a junior in the College and senior Guide editor for The Hoya.

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