Panthers Stadium sported additional seating Friday, room for a larger-than-normal crowd and close to 700 band members.
Fans showed up in droves to hear Virginia Tech's band and watch Lakeside High School's football team tangle with county rival Evans.
A Panthers' loss would not have been a popular ending to the night.
"We weren't going to let that happen," quarterback Ben Wilson said. "We had no doubt. We had worked harder than anyone."
The Panthers dominated one of the area's best teams Friday night, beating the Knights 17-0 on a night when the Marching Virginians entertained an estimated 4,000 people there to honor Lakeside graduate Ryan Clark, a Tech band member who was killed during the 2007 campus shootings.
Known as "Stack" to his Virginia Tech bandmates, T-shirts bearing Clark's likeness were sold at the game with proceeds to be used to fund a memorial scholarship in his honor. At halftime, all that remained of the hundreds of T-shirts bearing Clark's favorite quote by Indira Gandhi -- "Be the change you want to see in the world" -- was a small stack of extra large.
"It's bittersweet," said Clark's mother, Letitie Clark. "It's hard to be here because it brings back so many memories of Ryan, but I'm very grateful for all the people who want to honor him."
On the field, Wilson was making his first start at quarterback and threw for 170 yards. He completed six passes 10 yards or longer, and three of those passes set up all the Panthers' points. Senior Chris Hartfield ran for two touchdowns and keyed a defensive effort that didn't allow Evans to get closer than 22 yards to the end zone.
Lakeside's victory ended Evans' winning streak over area teams at 16. The Knights lost for the first time in 13 regular-season games and were shut out for the first time in 13 games.
"They kicked our butts," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "We weren't on all cylinders ... I just didn't have us ready to play."
Lakeside held reigning Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year Jonathan Finch to 26 yards on 11 carries. Finch's first carry went for 19 yards, and the senior seemed primed for a big night. He did not have a run longer than 6 yards the rest of the game.
Tevin Nelson caught five passes for 81 yards to lead Evans. The closest the Knights came to scoring was a missed 37-yard field goal on their first possession.
Lakeside receivers Ben Brooks (game-high 86 yards receiving) and Tony Sigee (42 yards) were Wilson's primary targets.
The Panthers led most of the 2008 matchup at Evans before falling late. The Knights would go on to an undefeated regular season, while the Panthers finished 7-3, narrowly missing a playoff berth.
"I can't tell you how hard our kids have worked," coach Jody Grooms said. "You can't beat Evans unless you prepare for them year-round. We started preparing for Evans after our Josey game (regular-season finale) last year.
"A lot of people went on to the playoffs. Our kids went straight to the weight room."
Greenbrier 27, Harlem 12
Harlem almost opened its season with a upset before falling to Greenbrier 27-12.
The Bulldogs, who were left undermanned and undersized after the rezoning for Grovetown High, led 12-10 in the third quarter before the Wolfpack pushed past.
Greenbrier (1-1) plays host to Lakeside on Friday. Harlem (0-1) plays host to Glenn Hills.
Augusta Christian 48, Fox Creek 19
North Augusta's Fox Creek came into the Lion's Den at Augusta Christian on Friday and barely left with its skin.
The Predators were dogged all night by long personal foul penalties and a tough Augusta Christian offense led by freshman quarterback Tyler Robinson and two-way player Matt Rogers.
Rogers made several key plays during the game, including an interception early in the first quarter to stop a Fox Creek drive, followed immediately by a 57-yard run from offense for the first Augusta Christian score.
Fox Creek scored late in the first quarter and missed the extra point attempt. Augusta Christian carried a 28-6 lead into the half and tacked on 20 more points in the second half to coast to a 48-19 victory.
Augusta Christian (1-1) travels this week to Hilton Head Prep (0-1).
Matt Middleton and Donnie Fetter contributed to this story.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.