In the first sold-out home opener since 1952, Martin Stadium shook with the deafening roars of fans in attendance as the Washington State Cougars defeated the Eastern Washington Eagles 24-20 on Saturday.
Lines of students and alumni grew outside the stadium well before the start of the game, and throngs of crimson quickly masked the silver grandstands. Fans were raucous early and often, cheering for their home team.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” sophomore Justin Rice said. “It’s the first sold-out opener since the 1950s. I expect us to win every home game in this environment.”
Fans in support of the Eagles filled a section in the corner of the east end zone, but their cheers were drowned out by the shouts of loyal Cougar fans.
“Being a Coug fan brings a lot of enthusiasm,” Rice said. “Everyone is getting pumped up. I can’t even put it into words.”
Sophomore Matthew Zimmer said being a Coug fan means everything to him.
"It’s a way of life," he said. "You can embrace it, and the faith in the Cougars is undeniably contagious.”
That contagious faith was evident as the crowd traded exclamations of “Go Cougs!" The leader of the chants, Butch the Cougar, also rallied the crowd by allowing fans in the front few rows to toss him up and down for each point the Cougars scored.
Another drawing point for the game was the unveiling of the Cougar Football Project, which towered high above the field across from the student section.
“It makes the stadium seem like a pro field,” Rice said.
With students packed shoulder-to-shoulder and spilling into the aisles, the Cougar football team played in the heart of the upgraded stadium and underneath the early September sun, eventually knocking off the Eagles to tally their first win of the 2012 season.