NORMAN — Between the first and second quarters Saturday, during a segment that involves a local car dealership and the naming of a “Patriot of the Game,” First Sergeant David Brian Curtis, a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, appeared on the giant video board above the south end zone, offering a message to friends and family from Afghanistan. He said he would be home in a few weeks.
At that point, it was very similar to other “Patriot of the Game” segments that have taken place at Owen Field this season.
Then it became different.
A moment later, the Sooner Schooner was on the field, with Curtis in it, and Curtis’s family was running down the field to get to him, even between the two teams that were huddled across from each other, inside the boundaries of the playing surface.
A Eufala native — just like the famed Selmon brothers — Curtis has served in the National Guard 23 years, over which time he has received the Bronze Star, two Meritorious Achievement Medals, three Army commendations and three Army Achievement Medals.
During his latest stint in Afghanistan, Curtis and his unit had been charged with the closure of military bases in preparation of handover to the Afghani government.
Among those chasing him down on the Schooner were his wife Lori and his children Brandon, Baylee, Cy and Mylee.
Early game, less fans: Officially, it was another sellout at Owen Field, yet very clearly, the stadium just wasn’t full. At no point did the student section appear to be more than three-fourths full and the most upper deck, across from the press box, was never very full.
Boo-birds: It’s not like it overtook the stadium, but a couple of times, early in the game when the Blake Bell-led Sooner offense continued to go nowhere, fans could be heard booing the Sooner offense.