On Friday night, Auburn fans flocked to Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, ready to board flights headed for Dallas.
As people passed through security and arrived at their gates, they received news that would potentially shatter their dreams of watching the Tigers in their opening game against Oregon.
However, for many students, the news of a canceled flight would not stop them from making it to the game.
In that moment, many made the decision to drive to Texas.
Kristin Fucito, a master’s student in materials engineering, and Jacob McGhee, a master’s student in civil engineering, were set to leave Atlanta on Friday around 7:00 p.m. on a Southwest Airlines flight.
“We drove all the way up to the Atlanta airport for our flight. We checked our flight status, and it said on-time,” Fucito said. “As soon as we got to the gate, the monitor flipped from on-time to canceled.”
Once they realized there would be no flights leaving Atlanta for Dallas that night, McGhee said they had to make a decision as to what to do next.
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“We just had to get on the road as soon as possible. Because at that point it was less than 24 hours till kickoff,” he said.
About a 12-hour drive, Fucito said she had her doubts about making the trek out west.
“I would have been perfectly fine just driving right back to Auburn and watching the game on TV. That wasn’t an option, so I didn’t even say anything. It worked out though,” she said.
McGhee said he had similar feelings at the beginning of the trip, but his reservations would not stop him from getting to the game.
“Part of the reason I absolutely wanted to go is we had kind of camped out and waited to get the best seats available for students at the game,” he said. “We had such good seats and we had gotten them for so cheap … I really wanted to take advantage of that.”
Mitchell Tate, a senior and double major in finance and marketing, experienced a similar situation upon his arrival to the airport.
“We had a Spirit Airlines flight leaving about 6:30 p.m. in Atlanta. As soon as we got back to our gate, we got the text that it had been canceled,” he said.
Everything appeared to be working out as Tate was able to get the last seat on a flight leaving an hour later.
“I go back through security again, and the same exact thing [happened.] Within five minutes, I got the text that it had been canceled,” he said.
Much like Fucito and McGhee, Tate and his friends had to act quickly if they were to make it to Dallas in time for the game.
“I brought my car back from Atlanta, and we left Auburn, took shifts driving all night and got there around 7:00 a.m.,” he said. “It was the biggest pain ever, but also probably the best trip ever. You learn a lot about your friends driving for 12 hours.”
At the end of the first half, McGhee said he began to question his decision of making the long drive to Texas.
“Did we really do what we did, and it’s not going to work out that well?” he recalled. “We continued to have faith and continued to keep cheering. Thank God we did.”
McGhee said the memories he made this past weekend, both during the drive and at the game, are ones that he will never forget.
“It’s definitely a memory we’re going to remember, us being there and having this amazing trip to see a 15-point comeback in Bo Nix’s first game,” he said.
Tate shared this sentiment, saying he has no regrets about making the trip, especially after Auburn’s comeback in the final moments of the game.
“It was definitely worth it,” he said. “Anything for Auburn.”
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