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Bobcat, Herd fans show team spirit in rivalry game

Sep. 15, 2012 @ 11:50 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Another "Battle for the Bell" is in the books, and the bell will stay in Athens, Ohio, for another year.

The 107-year-old matchup didn't disappoint fans from throughout the Tri-State, many of whom didn't have to travel any further than the 80-mile drive from Athens to Huntington to see the Bobcats beat the Thundering Herd 27-24 on Saturday evening.

For Mike and Paula Burdette, it was a short trip from Ashland to make it to the game, but they said it also had been a long week for them in deciding which team to support -- Marshall, where their daughter is a student, or OU, where their son is taking classes.

"For the first time in a long time, we weren't sure about what we were going to wear," Paula Burdette said. "It's my first game in a while not wearing a Marshall shirt, but I think my Herd purse is giving me kind of even footing."

Nevertheless, the Burdettes said they were very excited for the game, which marked the 56th meeting of the teams. Ohio now leads the series 31-19-6.

Josh Honaker grew up in Culloden, and lives in Huntington, where he displays his Marshall team spirit each week with his family and friends.

He said playing teams in as close proximity as OU is a win-win situation for fans of both teams.

"It's a good opportunity for fans to be able to see their team play whether it's home or away since they are so close together," he said. "Being able to come out here and tailgate with everyone is a good chance to build bonds and spirit with your friends while you might meet some new ones. Most people are friendly at a tailgate, and that's something that carries over when you go in to watch the game."

For Rhozlyn Casto, of Winchester, Ohio, who celebrated her sixth birthday Saturday while cheering on the Bobcats, the game was a great way to spend her big day with her family, including her father, Eric Casto, who said the Marshall-OU game is an annual event for their family.

"It's great because it's so nearby, and tickets to the games are usually affordable," he said. "It's something nice to bring your family to."

Scott Foster of Milton, who is a graduate of Marshall, said since growing up, the whole notion of tailgating in general has changed for him.

"It's a nice chance to see your family and your friends that you might not get to see as often. The game definitely is something people will come to town for," he said. "If you're not coming to the games, you're missing out on a good time for yourself. Plus, you're missing out on letting your team know you are supporting them."