Victory timeline: The fans go wild
11:49 P.M.: Less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and students can smell victory. The more than 10,000 students and alumni gathered at the basketball arena, home to UF’s other 2006 championship team, are screaming and jumping up and down.
11:55 p.m.: The game ends. Thousands of students are running down University Avenue.
“We kicked their butts!” yells Jessica Greer, 19, a pre-med student from Brevard County. Her long hair is pulled up into a cone, blue on one side and orange on the other.
“Oh my God, it hasn’t set in! We’re making history. They doubted us, but we made it. I’m climbing a light post tonight.”
Midnight: A dozen students pose with a motorcycle cop in the middle of University Avenue. Police are everywhere, on motorcycles, on horse, in cars, on foot. Helicopters fly overheard, and the streets are filled with the blue and red lights of police sirens. A fire truck roars down the avenue. Students cheer.
“This is the most amazing experience of my life!” student Ryan Shore, 19, of Stuart, shouts as he runs past the police officer.”
12:07 a.m.: Jimmy Serrano, 21, a finance student from Miami, walks out of the Sloppy Gator bar with a Cuban Cohiba in hand. He’s been drinking since 11 a.m. Monday, but he is still standing.
“I brought my cigar because I knew we were going to win. I lost my friends, but I don’t care! I knew we were going to win.”
Says Albert Rodriguez, smoking a cigar nearby: “They just didn’t respect us enough.”
12:12 a.m.: Anna Gabrenya, 22, and her friend Mina Bishop, 21, are finishing off a Papa John’s Pizza as they stand on the sidewalk along University Avenue. “That was awesome!” Gabrenya says. “We killed them! They had no chance!”
Bishop has a class in nine hours, but she’s not going. “Hell, no! We’re not sleeping tonight.”
12:15 a.m.: Fireworks fill the sky. Students are throwing toilet paper streamers and taking pictures of the celebration with their cell phones. Others are making videos for YouTube. A student tries to dial a number on his cell phone, but he’s too drunk and he nearly falls over.
12:17 a.m.: A student who calls himself “Shaky Jake” climbs a lamppost. The police greased the poles before the game to prevent this, but he found a way.
12:21 a.m.: Students turn a Christmas tree into a bonfire in front of St. Augustine Catholic Church.
“This is a great idea!” says student Tyson Patterson of Boca Raton. “We’re national champions!”
He throws an Ohio State jersey into the fire, and the crowd goes nuts.
12:33 a.m.: A police officer arrives. The bonfire is over.
12:36 a.m.: A male student, wearing only black boxers, is standing on the roof of Goerings Book Store, a block off University Avenue. His friend falls into the trash dumpster below.
12:51 a.m.: The corner of University Avenue and 13th Street, the main intersection of campus, is gridlocked. Students are packed into cars and trucks, honking horns as they dangle out the windows screaming “Go Gators!” and “It’s great to be a Florida Gator.”
12:59 a.m.: Gainesville resident Starr Davis brings her son KeyShay, 7, out to see the celebration even though it is way past his bedtime. “I didn’t know they was gonna win,” he says, sleepily.
1:01 a.m.: A line several people deep forms at the Kangaroo gas station convenience store across from campus. Heineken, Corona, and Coors Light are flying off the shelves.
1:07 a.m.: Two young men moon drivers pulling into the nearby Holiday Inn parking lot.
1:12 a.m.: Students start wandering over to the Krispy Kreme. UF alumnus Phil Dean, 28, came from Texas to watch the game here with friends. They’ve nearly polished off a dozen glazed.
“Troy Smith was off his game the whole night,” Dean says. ” He looked confused.”
1:23 a.m.: Cathy Smith, 19, of Fort Lauderdale, fuels up on McDonald’s fries before going out to party some more. She has a 5:30 p.m. class, but “I’ll be OK by then,” she says. She turns to her friends. “Who’s paying for the next keg?”
1:40 a.m. : At Durty Nelly’s, the Guinness tap is flowing. Then the lights come up, and eyes squint. Time for last call. Melissa Hedrick, a UF employee, finishes her pint. “Michigan can shut their traps, and we beat Ohio State! It’s a wonderful day for Gainesville.”
2:01 a.m.: Along University Avenue, cars are at a standstill. A woman leans out of a white Envoy and vomits.
2:03 a.m.: A student with a bullhorn walks down University Avenue flirting with women in cars.
“Hey, hey,” he says. “Why you spending the National Championship alone?”
2: 25 a.m.: The brothers at Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity hoist a huge Gator flag up the pole outside their house. Victory.
--SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER, Times staff writer