Alex Porterfield and Natasha Simons were shivering 17 rows behind the Ohio bench at Peden Stadium.
The two Ohio University freshmen huddled together in a mostly-empty section of bleachers to take in the Bobcats’ game against Western Michigan. It was Ohio’s final home game of the season, but the frigid conditions — the kickoff temperature was 25 degrees — made the Tuesday night game an unpopular option for students looking to kill time.
Alex and Natasha were exceptions among an announced crowd of 11,700 people. That seemed generous (The Post counted just under 250 fans, which didn’t include the Marching 110, on one half of the stadium), and the vast majority of those people left long before the game ended.
Midway through the third quarter, Alex and Natasha were two of only a few dozen students left on the cold, empty bleachers overlooking the Ohio bench.
Why were they there?
“We were just looking for something to do,” said Alex, whose chapped lips were clearly taking a toll from the brisk conditions. “Honestly, it’s too cold to be here.”
Was it for a date?
“We’re just hanging out,” Alex quickly said with a smile. Natasha smiled next to him, too, as she shivered with her hands in her pockets. She forgot to bring gloves and was starting to regret it.
Alex is an Athens native who wore black Under Armour gloves and was dressed in a black North Face jacket and Carhartt beanie. Natasha is from Van Buren and was wearing a Patagonia jacket, black jeans and boots. Prior to Tuesday, Alex had attended two football games. Natasha had only been at one game.
Both of them were at Ohio’s game last week against Miami when 20,589 people packed into Peden Stadium to set a new program attendance record for a midweek football game. Ohio also gave away free tuition to a lucky student, and that was the main reason the two showed up.
Last week, the Bobcats were playing for control of a path to the Mid-American Conference Championship. Ohio lost when the RedHawks won on a game-winning field goal, which made the Bobcats long shots to make a trip to Ford Field in Detroit.
So, there weren’t a whole lot of reasons for students to brave the frigid-cold weather.
Alex and Natasha didn’t mind. At least not originally.
They saw the forecast a few hours before the game, but they didn’t want to change their plans. If they got too cold, they were going to head to Bird Arena — which might’ve been a bit warmer than outside — to ice skate.
“I saw the temperature and I was like, ‘We can just bundle up,’” Alex said.
“Yeah…” Natasha awkwardly said with a smile.
On the field, the Bobcats had turned a 10-0 halftime deficit into an exciting 14-10 lead.
The score didn’t matter to Alex and Natasha, who wanted to call it quits before the third quarter concluded. The two were ready to go to Bird Arena, but they realized the skating session didn’t start until 10 p.m.
They needed to pass time for another hour, but they were starting to realize that maybe the time shouldn’t be at Peden Stadium.
“Is Front Room open?” Natasha asked, referring to the coffee house inside the cozy, warm confines of Baker Center.
They were ready to leave. That was a decision many of the fans sitting around them made about an hour earlier, but not Alex and Natasha. Their shivering smiles seemed to suggest that they were still enjoying themselves.
Now, the glacial temps were starting to bite.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, they stood up and began their walk across campus to Front Room.
“That was fun,” Alex said to Natasha as his teeth chattered.
She nodded her head as the two shivered their way out of the exits looking for an escape from a cold, forgetful night of football.