RYE - Peering through the small, rectangular, street-level window panes and into the pub, it was clear this wasn't just some football game to patrons inside Kelly's Sea Level.
Their eyes weren't wandering from TV to TV. Their minds weren't focused on the frosty beverages perched on the bar in front of them. The focus was on Rye, their team, as it played for yet another state football championship.
The beloved Garnets went on to beat Oneida 16-12 and capture a third Class B state title in four years. The people at Kelly's weren't there to see it in person, but yesterday's live viewing among friends was the next-best thing.
"This is a great victory for the players, for the community and for everyone who ever played for Rye - all the Garnets," said bartender Frank Byrne, a 1972 Rye graduate. "I said at the beginning of the week, 'I'm not going.' I drove up when they won their second state championship. But this was great. Absolutely."
Some of the crowd knew Kelly's had planned to show the game. Others called in to confirm the game was on. Still others showed up to watch the NFL and were pleasantly surprised.
"I hung around," Pat Dempsey, a 1959 grad, said. "I might be in a little bit of trouble tonight, but it was worth it."
Mary Slater, daughter of owners Jerry and Martha McGuire, said a group of fans considered renting a bus to Syracuse but decided against it. Instead, she thought midweek about connecting a computer to one of the TVs.
At first, Slater bought an HDMI cable at a Radio Shack, but it didn't work. So she went upstairs to her parents' house above the bar and used the wires on their computer.
It took about three hours of tinkering, but Slater and Company were able to connect a flat-screen to a friend's laptop just in time for the start of the live video feed, which was shown on lohud.com, The Journal News' Web site.
"We have Pittsburgh on over there, the Jets on over there and Rye over here," Slater said, pointing around the crowded room. "I told the guys here, 'We're a full local-sports bar.' "
Fans were immersed in the action all game. Their intensity peaked in the final minutes as Oneida drove for a late touchdown, cutting Rye's lead to 16-12 with 2:09 left.
The Garnets fans at Kelly's grew a little restless. They were still on edge after Rye recovered the ensuing onside kick, but a long first-down run by senior star Kyle Ramalho sealed the title for their favorite team. So when quarterback Connor Eck took a knee, the bar erupted in applause.
Another state final was over. The Garnets had won again, and some of the men who came before them in Rye uniforms were elated.
One was Mike Maloney, the brother of Rye defensive coordinator Tommy Maloney, the only coach with the program longer than head coach Dino Garr.
"It is unbelievable the respect they have for the kids and that the kids have for the coaches," Mike Maloney said. "Dino's from Rye High School. Tommy's from Rye High School. What a great group of kids."
Maloney had driven to Kingston for last week's state semifinal, but said four bulging discs in his back kept him home. Being able to watch the game among friends like Byrne made for a special night.
"We've been friends for 40 years," Maloney said. "He played for Rye. I played for Rye. The camaraderie we had here, it was great."