LINCOLN — The tickets have been in Helen Heller’s family for 67 years.
And never — never — were they allowed to leave before the final gun.
That streak was broken Saturday, when Helen and throngs of Husker fans in ponchos headed for home during hours of downpour.
Heller and her husband hit the road around 9 p.m., about two hours after kickoff. Nebraska walked out of the tunnel, took the field, kicked off, then jogged off the field after a flash of lightning.
“It’s disappointing because the momentum was there, everybody was excited,” Heller said.
Galen Gocke and Michael Gocke have never left a game early, either. Not even during the Mike Riley years. The closest they got was a few years ago against Michigan State. But before they could leave the stadium that day, Brandon Reilly scored and the Huskers won.
On Saturday, they were bummed leaving the stadium.
“In the first game, we wanted to see (coach Scott) Frost,” Galen said. “The anticipation was so high.”
It was a party inside Memorial Stadium for a few hours while there were just flashes of lightning in the distance and rain. The student section danced to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and Akron players stood in their tunnel without pads watching the storm. The Gockes just stood on the concourse trying to keep dry.
At about 9 p.m., Memorial Stadium was evacuated due to a severe thunderstorm warning.
That was it for the Gockes.
“If it’s 30 minutes you have to wait after every lightning strike, it’s kind of futile to stay in there getting sodas and nothing else,” Michael said.
“Raining on our parade,” Galen added.
Heller planned on driving back to Omaha in hopes of catching the game on TV. Even so, it was a Saturday full of hype, with no real payoff.
“I’ve seen everything. I was at the game when they had to plow the fields because of the all the snow,” Heller said. “This is a new one.”