There was plenty of noise last night at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Bass-thumping hip-hop shook the speakers during warm-ups. Then came the anthem rock followed by a University of Kentucky band rendition of On! On! U of K.
Under an idyllic late-summer evening sky, the collective buzz grew as fans for both the Wildcats and Cardinals looked forward to the kickoff of a new season and the state’s biggest football game.
Then, at 15 minutes and 8 seconds before the 8 p.m. game time, the crowd at one of the state’s unofficial sporting holidays grew silent to remember one of Kentucky’s worst tragedies.
For nearly 20 seconds, fans bowed their heads to remember the 49 people who died Aug. 27 on Comair Flight 5191.
Only the co-pilot survived when the jet crashed during takeoff in Lexington.
Then came the nation’s flag to honor members of the armed forces, followed by a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, the roar of the partisan Louisville crowd, and fireworks as the Cardinals took the field.
The backs of the UK players’ helmets bore “5191” stickers.
A few fans said the moment of silence for the crash victims was appropriate.
Not too much or too little, they agreed.
“We’re all in the same state,” said Ray Roberts of Mount Sterling, who was wearing his UK blue. He noted that everyone was affected by the crash.
By that point, Louisville was up 7-0 after marching down the field on the game’s first possession.
Then, after a week when sports had seemed small by comparison, Roberts and others allowed themselves to be distracted by football for a few hours.