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UCLA topples Virginia Tech in Sun Bowl
By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- The Virgina Tech Hokies and the 17th-ranked UCLA Bruins took the field as fans took their seats in the 80th Hyundai Sun Bowl Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm here to see the Hokies beat the UCLA Bruins," said Chris Sheffield, a Virginia native who now lives in Midland. He said his babyhood attire was "a Hokies onesie."
"Bruins!" shouted Adam Barnfather of Los Angeles, when asked who was going to win.
Some of the fans were finding themselves in new seats.
"Go Hokies. It's his first game. He'll warm up," said one fan, carrying a baby decked in Hokie orange and maroon.
Others found familiar spots.
"These are our seats every year," said Mike Condardo of northeast El Paso.
It was a homecoming of sorts for some.
"My first job out of Virgina Tech was here 40 years ago. First time back in 40 years," said Bob Wells of Virginia Beach.
"We found the old apartment we lived in. It was a hoot," said Janice Wells.
And family pride for others.
Kimberly Barrett was there from Dallas to cheer on her son, UCLA Bruin Jordan Barrett.
Fireworks went off, skydivers glided in with the game ball and soon it was game time.
Both of these teams travel well, boasting fans who arrived from places coast to coast pitted against each other on either side of the bowl.
"I'm proud of it; class of '70," said Virgina Tech grad Donna King, who came in from Atlanta.
"Nine-hour drive, but we'd do it again," said Kimberly Barrett.
"We'd do anything to see my brother play football, and he said he'd give me his helmet," said Conner Barrett.
For many El Pasoans, the Sun Bowl was all about tradition. Even if the game won't be held on New Year's Eve day next year. The Sun Bowl is much more than a day.
"We'd be OK with the (December) 27th. As long as it continues, the tradition continues, we'll be happy," said Richard Marquez.
When it was all said and done, UCLA quarterback Brett Hudley led his team to a crushing 42-12 victory just in time to ring in the New Year in the Sun City.
"We're going to have some fun. We're going to have a lot of fun," said Hudley.