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The 5th Quarter

Prairie View A&M and Grambling State bands save the best for the 5th Quarter

After the football was over, the competition continued

The storms that rolled into Texas threatening to soak a day of football and band battles were met by thousands of attendees who showed up to Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium for the State Fair Classic anyway. And luckily for the fans who came to watch the tense showdown between the Grambling State Tigers and the Prairie View A&M Panthers, faith paid off.

Two hours before the 4 p.m. Saturday kickoff, the drizzling stopped and overcast skies were a shield from the usually oppressive Texas heat.

While fans waited hours in line to get into the game, the bands were on hand to bring the game to them. Drumbeats could be heard from one side of the stadium to the other. Curious fair-goers left their posts to watch the Prairie View A&M Marching Storm Band head into the stadium, while others danced in place in line. At exactly 3 p.m., the gates opened, and while many people rushed to get as close as they could to the field, the sections surrounding the bands filled the fastest.

“It’s the only reason we come,” a woman wearing Grambling colors told her friend as they found seats closest to the band. “We don’t care about the game. We come for the bands.”

The Marching Storm had already taken its place on the opposite side of the field. Local high school bands proudly marched in and took their seats. Then finally, right after kickoff, the World Famed Tiger Marching Band was spotted coming out of the tunnel. Fans on Grambling’s side cheered as fans on Prairie View’s side expressed their displeasure at the mere presence of the rival band.

As the band took its place in the stands, the Marching Storm was fired up and ready to go. They began to play a loud number, a teaser, just enough to let Grambling know they were here and ready for war.

After two initial songs, which couldn’t be heard by either side because the bands spent most of the time playing over each other, most of the first half consisted of section challenges. As the football game increased in intensity, with Prairie View dominating after an impressive first half, the bands still remained relatively quiet. However, the halftime show didn’t disappoint.

The Marching Storm was up first this year. The noticeably larger band of nearly 400 members waited in clean lines on both sides of the field as the band’s five drum majors took center field. The mini-field show was an appetizing bit of entertainment before their feature presentation. Opening up with the Entertainment Tonight theme, the band transitioned to a couple of different numbers before spending a good amount of time showcasing the band’s drum line. After an impressive showing, complete with smoke coming from cymbals, it was the band’s dance breakdown that really got the crowd hyped. The catchiest part of the mix was a partial rendition of Grambling’s unofficial fight song right before they produced stuffed tiger tails to taunt the opposing band. After a standing ovation from the visiting side, the band confidently left the field as the Tiger Marching Band members found their places.

The Tiger Marching Band focused largely on entertainment the entire time, beginning with Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover” before transitioning to Destiny’s Child’s “Lose My Breath.” The largest crowd reaction came during the dance breakdown to Drake’s “In My Feelings.” Appropriately, the band exited to Lil Duval’s “Smile (Living My Best Life)” before marching back to their places in the stands.

As Prairie View continued to prove its worth on the field, the bands continued with more section battles in the stands, which seemed to both hype and frustrate the crowd at the same time. The people wanted more, but demands for the bands to play with the true intensity that they desired would have to wait until the 5th Quarter.

And neither band disappointed. For nearly 30 minutes, the two went back and forth — at one point playing the same songs to see which band could play it better.

As the 5th Quarter wrapped up, satisfied fans left as quickly as the bands. Debates began as they walked to their cars, already anticipating what thrills they’ll be in for next year.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.