CINCINNATI -- The Bearcat family remembered one of their own Friday night during the University of Cincinnati football team's home victory over Temple.
A moment of silence was held at Nippert Stadium for Ben Flick, a red-shirt freshman offensive lineman who was one of two people killed in a car accident in Hanover Township on Sept. 21.
Sean VanDyne, the driver and Flick's lifelong friend, was also killed, and two of Flick's teammates, Mark Barr and Javon Harrison, were injured in the crash.
The moment of silence was observed at 8:25 p.m., 11 minutes before kick off of the game between UC and the Owls that was broadcast on ESPN.
During the observance, a video was displayed on the scoreboard above the stadium that highlighted Flick's career as a Bearcat, his time as a student at Hamilton High School, and the his role as brother, son and friend to people across the Tri-State.
While the moment of silence turned into a several-minute tribute, the outpouring of love and support for the 19-year-old persisted throughout the 60-minute football contest.
Tammon Cole's son, Nate Cole, is a freshman wide receiver on the UC football team. She said Flick was not only her son's teammate but also a friend and mentor.
"We're here in order for (Flick's) memory to live on," said Tammon Cole who added that Flick gave her son advice about being a team player and having a team-first mentality.
On the field, players like Nate Cole wore Flick's number, No. 77, on their helmets by way of black and white decals. They also donned personalized messages on their shoes, armbands and T-shirts under their jerseys that paid tribute to their fallen teammate.
Part of that emotion stemmed from a pregame speech by first-year Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville that UC's director of new media, Tom Gelehrter, called via Twitter "the most emotional (and) inspiring" he'd listened to this season.
Tuberville hasn't spoken out much about the death of the 6-foot-6, 272-pound offensive lineman, but when he has his words have expressed a level of disbelief about what transpired 35 miles from the university's campus in Clifton.
"I can't put into words how tragic this is," Tuberville said in a statement after the accident. "As a father and a coach, it's something you hope you never have to go through.
Fathers, coaches, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones comprised the 32,200 members of "Flick Nation" in the stands Friday night. That includes Flick's family members who were visibly and not surprisingly emotional during the pre-game events.
Sherri Hall, a mother of two UC students, attended the game to support the Flick family.
"It is definitely a tragedy when any child loses their life. He was so young and had so much potential," she said.
Everyone at the on-campus stadium, decked out in red and black "Ben Flick" gear, was there to both honor a young man's life and cheer on his favorite team, the Bearcats, to a 38-20 victory. It was UC's first conference win as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Beyond wins and losses, signs and stickers, video highlights and calls for applause by the stadium's public address announcer, the game provided a chance for people to release the emotions they've had to bottle up over the past several weeks while coping with the tragedy.
Ian Silver, a member of the Cincinnati track team, said he has noticed a change on campus since the accident.
"It's definitely been a little quieter and I've noticed '77' all over the place," the sophomore said.
Friday night's game was UC's first at home in nearly a month. It was also the first campus-wide opportunity for the University of Cincinnati community to come together and grieve.
Last week, Cincinnati (4-2, 1-1) suffered a 26-20 loss to South Florida in its first game since the accident.
Two hours before the kickoff to last Saturday’s game in Florida, the entire UC team gathered at midfield at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to pray for Flick, as well as red-shirt freshmen Barr and Harrison.
Before then, the Bearcats spent a difficult bye week mourning, attending Flick's funeral and making hospital visits to check on Barr and Harrison. Barr is still at University of Cincinnati Medical Center in intensive care, but Harrison has since been released.
The car accident occurred while the players and VanDyne, a freshman at Miami of Ohio, were traveling back to Cincinnati from Oxford, Ohio, where the Bearcats had beaten Miami earlier in the day.
The players were making the trip on their own because as red-shirt freshmen, they didn't dress or travel with the team to the game. VanDyne died from his injuries a few days after the crash.
On Oct. 4, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office released a statement indicating that alcohol and speed played a part in the accident.
Share your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement for the Flicks, the VanDynes and the UC family in the section below.
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