A tide of maroon and silver flooded the parking lots and practice fields surrounding Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the first home Griz football game of the season.
The smells of burgers and brats filled the air while students, alumni and fans mingled before the night game against North Alabama.
A few notable changes at the campus stadium this year include a new clear bag policy, requiring spectators at Washington-Grizzly Stadium to carry their belongings in a clear 1-gallon tote, or a few smaller bag options. This year also marked the first time the stadium was guarded by metal detectors at each entrance.
University of Montana Police Chief Marty Ludemann said the university was in the process of buying more detectors as funding becomes available, but for this season, the stadium will have eight — one metal detector at each entrance. The metal detector will serve as an express lane, Ludemann said, for spectators coming in with no bags.
“We’ve got them set up so that things like keys and cell phones won’t set them off, but something like a handgun will,” Ludemann said. “The university system looked and said we should probably get some increased security, so we’ll be adding them on as we go.”
Outside the stadium, the usual festivities took place, with matches of beer-pong getting as heated as the football game the fans anticipated.
At one tailgate, Theresa Cremer and Justin Ridgeway, both 36, pulled off the comeback of the afternoon when they bested the reigning table champs Kevin Cremer and Cory McGahan, both 37, after coming back from a 3-to-7 cup deficit.
McGahan said he was humbled by the loss after holding onto the table for three games.
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“We choked is what happened,” McGahan said. “It got to our head. We really do well under pressure, but it wasn’t our day and we just really have to hand it to our competitors.”
The losing Cremer, Kevin, said losing to his wife was bittersweet.
“If I’m going to lose to anyone, it ought to be my wife,” he said. “Happy wife, happy life.”
Across the River Bowl, Liam and Noah Hamilton, 13-year-old twins from Spokane, were making some dough with their brotherly bluegrass band.
Playing traditional Appalachian reels and jigs for passersby, the banjo-fiddle duo said they’d raked in over $200 between the stadium sidewalk and downtown earlier in the day.
Their dad and Griz grad, Andy Hamilton, said the two had picked up on the idea of playing bluegrass about three years ago.
“What they earn, they keep,” he said. “If they’re going to go to music camp in Nashville, they’re going to have to pay for it somehow.”