What started out on a good note ended a bit sour for local San Francisco 49ers fans who flocked to Fresno sports bars to watch their team take on their rival Seattle Seahawks for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
"I waited so long for this game," said Johnny Oceguera, 26, of Fresno. "I couldn't fall asleep last night thinking about it."
Nearly 400 local fans sporting their 49ers jerseys and hats gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings on Shaw Avenue to witness the game. Similar crowds gathered at other sports bars around Fresno to watch their team play.
To their dismay, the Seahawks won it with a fourth-quarter rally, 23-17.
Jeremiah De La Cruz, 18, of Fresno, had been at Buffalo Wild Wings for more than an hour, leaning against a wall in front of the hostess stand waiting for a table. But Cruz didn't mind the wait.
"I don't care if I'm standing or sitting down as long as I'm watching the game," he said. "That's how crazy I am about my team."
Others planned ahead and made sure they got a spot at the bar in time for kickoff.
Timm Smith, 52, who grew up in San Francisco and now lives in Fresno, said he loves watching Niners fans unite and cheer on their team.
"It's electric, it's crazy, it's fun; it's up and it's down," Smith said. "Every play is exciting to watch; it's just that type of game."
The Niners kicked a field goal to take an early lead, and as they did the restaurant and patio erupted in cheers.
As the game heated up and Seattle, which had been trailing, starting coming back to score, more and more fans got up from their seats, staring at the large TV screens.
"I'm really nervous," Anthony Maggi, 25, of Kerman said. "We have to win."
Then the Seahawks intercepted a last-second Colin Kaepernick pass, ending any hope of a comeback.
The 23-17 defeat left local Niners fans stunned.
"It's pretty sad, I'm disappointed," 22-year-old Gairo Dominguez said. "I just wanted them to win and see them in the Super Bowl game."
Edward Ferreira, 30, of Fresno, was philosophical.
"We started good but they outplayed us," he said. "I hate saying it but they deserve to go."
Amid the agony of defeat for many, a few people celebrated the final score.
Mark Pernsteiner, 39, of Fresno, who used to live in Washington state, proudly wore his Seahawks dark-blue jersey, clearly sticking out among the sea of red.
"I've been a Seahawks fan since I was 9," he said. "I've been waiting 30 years for a Super Bowl. I'm super excited, and to beat the Niners on top of it, it's just like the icing on the cake."
Another Seahawks fan, Alex Mendez, 25, of Fresno, said he was delighted by the outcome.
"I'm ready for the next couple of weeks," he added. "A bunch of my buddies now expect me to throw a Super Bowl party, so now I have to."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, email@example.com or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.