Sick as a hog, but worth every second

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, September 22, 2018

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Rollicking in Green

ROLLICKING IN GREEN – Messenger Sports Editor Reece Waddell (right), general assignment reporter Austin Jackson and Brady Keane at the North Texas vs. Arkansas game last weekend. Messenger photo by Reece Waddell

For the past week, you could hear a jingle in my pocket.

Cough drops and over-the-counter medicine rattled like maracas as I traipsed around Wise County.

It all started last Friday night.

Wise County Messenger Sports Editor Reece Waddell, a fellow UNT graduate, and friend Brady Keane and I all had the same bright idea.

We finished our Friday night football recaps and completed the final edits for the print edition at 1 a.m. before hitting bed around 2 a.m. like kids restlessly trying to sleep before Christmas. Four hours of fitful sleep later, we hit the road, bound for Arkansas. We had hogs to hunt.

We wanted to see history, my sniffles be darned.

At 6 a.m. we began our journey to see the North Texas Mean Green face the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.

The journey was perilous.

Windows had to be rolled down on several occasions. Tread was tested as the three formidable human beings packed into a Ford Focus, with Luke Combs and other adrenaline-inducing jams thundering through the speakers to keep everyone from catching a wink of sleep.

Youth was on our side, and we would not be deterred, despite a thunderstorm that sent the little Focus hydroplaning across the highway in Southern Oklahoma.

“Oh lord,” I hollered. “When it rains it pours.”

Within five hours, we arrived at the beautiful campus and the massive Southeastern Conference football scene we’d heard so much about.

We rolled up in green under clear skies, settling in a small patch of friendlies at the corner of the end zone.

The sun on the visitors side was relentless. We each bought rounds of bottled water for each other. The honor system was in place on this day.

But soon, we’d discover it was all worth it as we bore witness to a game that drew the nation’s eyes upon little old North Texas.

The fair catch play. You’ve probably seen it, and if you’re like me, you were as duped as the Arkansas coverage team. My buddies acted like they saw it all along.

Keegan Brewer caught the punt, and after the acting job of the century, casually walked two steps toward the sideline. After getting some room between himself and the nearest Razorback defender, Brewer took off at the speed of light down the sideline and into the end zone to give the Mean Green a 17-0 lead.

That play, if nothing else, set the tone for the rest of the night in Fayetteville, both for North Texas on the field and our postgame celebration.

Our destination, a quaint little watering hole known by the locals as “YEEEEHAWG.”

There was a mechanical hog that bucked and rollicked. The price was $5 a ride.

Each of us gave the hog a whirl, with Reece getting bucked in record time and .GIF-able fashion.

We safely took a Lyft to a hotel in Fort Smith. My sinuses, as Reece and Brady could attest to, were in about as good of shape as the city of Fayetteville after the beating Seth Littrell and Company delivered that fateful afternoon.

I have been coughing and sneezing and sniffling ever since. But it was all worth it. Thankfully, this little team that slays giants is located just 30 minutes east of our fair burg of Decatur.

Journey to catch a glimpse of this team and hop on the bandwagon before it’s too late.

It’s worth the price of admission.

Austin Jackson is a Messenger reporter.

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