FOOTBALL: Fans pack local restaurants to watch Saturday's game; leave eateries shocked, upset

It took a few minutes for explosions of joyful yelling and high fives to become sighs and then silence and heartbreak.

As the Ball State University football team's last minute drive failed to convert Saturday, resulting in a 41-40 loss to the University of Nebraska, hundreds of fans put their heads down, threw their hands up or just sat in silence, a stark contrast to what minutes before was a roaring atmosphere of excitement at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Throughout the entire game, the restaurant was packed full of people who were glued to the televisions showing the Cardinals' game. Of the approximately 30 televisions in the restaurant, about half of them were showing the Ball State-Nebraska game.

With every Ball State first down, score and big defensive stop, fans jumped from their seats to yell and give high fives.

The scene was similar to the student section at the season opener against Miami University, when a record number of students packed the bleachers. On defensive third downs, fans even did the "chirp" cheer.

"It's electric," Ball State soccer coach Michelle Salmon said at Buffalo Wild Wings. "You can see it; people believe."

The scene was similar at Beef O'Bradys, owner Rob Wardrop said.

More than 150 fans filled the restaurant as every table was full and about 30 more people stood, he said.

Beef O'Bradys had 12 reservations, including some large groups, Wardrop said. Fans who showed up late had trouble getting a table as one table of people left during the game, he said.

"It was pretty wild," Wardrop said. "Every time we scored, people were standing up, high fiving and standing on chairs."

While Wardrop said he did not have any numbers on how much Beef O'Bradys made during the game, he said it was much better than normal Saturdays.

It was worth buying the game on pay-per-view, he said.

"We have a decent crowd [on normal Saturdays] but never a full house like [during the Ball State game]," he said.

The third Muncie restaurant that showed the game, Damon's Grill, was also full of people, manager Rik Bosworth said. Also like the other restaurants, fans were excited and cheering, he said.

Bosworth also said it was the worth the investment to buy the game on pay-per-view as Damon's made back the money the game cost.

Ball State's ability to nearly beat Nebraska and the fan support was great for the university and the city of Muncie, Salmon said.

Also at Buffalo Wild Wings, Kelsey Corbin, director of operations for women's basketball and former women's basketball point guard, said she was also impressed with the atmosphere at the restaurant.

"It's pretty amazing," Corbin said. "It's nice to see the community support. As a former athlete, it's great to see."


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