Love can heal all wounds. Even when the South Carolina Gamecocks are breaking your heart.
That’s the case for Ashley Crafts. The die-hard USC fan was suffering through the Gamecocks’ performance in Saturday’s loss to the arch rival Clemson Tigers.
Then her mood – and life – were suddenly changed.
Just before the start of the third quarter, Crafts’ boyfriend Peter Cribbs dropped to one knee and proposed.
As the crowd in their section cheered, a shocked Crafts said “Are you serious?” before leaning in and kissing Cribbs.
Crafts fought back tears as she said “Yes.”
By the way, Cribbs is a life-long Clemson fan, so you know Crafts must really love him. Especially since the Gamecocks lost 34-10 to the Tigers.
“I think it softened the blow for her,” Cribbs told The State Monday about his proposal plan that only came together hours before kickoff.
The 40-year-old Cribbs said he has been thinking of asking Crafts to marry him for some time, but the unique proposal didn’t come together until Saturday.
The Lexington resident was doing some Black Friday shopping when he saw the engagement ring he wanted to get for his girlfriend of the past two years. But he didn’t buy it right away because Cribbs wanted to propose at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The only problem was he didn’t have tickets to the big rivalry game. Cribbs said he thought he had a few opportunities to purchase tickets lined up, but every sale fell through – until Friday.
“I thought this is it,” said Cribbs, a Mechanical Engineer Technician at Lennox International. “I had a plan.”
Once he had the tickets, he got up Saturday morning, bought the ring and hid it in his car.
The means to propose were in place, but Cribbs said he was still working out the rest of his plan on the fly. He and Crafts, 35, tailgated before the game, and he secretly got the ring as they headed to the stadium.
He wanted to get the proposal on Williams-Brice’s massive videoboard, but couldn’t get in touch with the people at the stadium to make it happen. And he couldn’t get away from Crafts long enough without bringing attention to himself that something was happening.
Besides, he was sure the jewelry box jutting out of his pocket would give him away before he had a chance to pop the question.
Cribbs said he thought his secret was spoiled when Crafts asked him, “Are we going to have Cocky at our wedding?” after seeing the Gamecocks’ mascot performing on the field.
Fearing Crafts was on to his plan, Cribbs knew it was almost time.
Before he dropped to one knee, he handed his phone to a person sitting behind him and asked them to record the proposal.
As Cribbs and Crafts kissed and embraced, he leaned into the South Carolina fan and said to her “Forever to me,” a playful twist on the famed lyric from USC’s alma mater.
“I had no idea,” Crafts said of the proposal, which is clear to anyone who has seen the video of the engagement that Cribbs posted on his Facebook page.
As they held each other strangers started coming up and congratulating and hugging the couple, even sending them pictures they snapped of the blessed event.
A wedding proposal at a ball game is pretty unique. When it’s fans of two hated rivals, it really is special. Cribbs says he was “born with Orange in me,” while Crafts comes from a family of USC alums, including her grandfather George Everett Crafts III, who played for the Gamecocks from 1960-62.
The newly engaged couple were in such a state of bliss that even the Palmetto Bowl couldn’t dampen their moods.
As they embraced Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow ran through USC’s defense for a 61-yard touchdown that really put the game out of reach.
While Cribbs said it was “icing on the cake for a great day,” Crafts was otherwise elated, and said “I don’t even care.”
“The game was fun, but this is so much bigger than that. I can’t believe it happened,” Cribbs said. “We’re going to be a house divided, but we’re still going to be a house.”
The couple hasn’t planned a date for the wedding yet, but are looking at sometime in spring of 2018. That will be before two other planned weddings in their family and will avoid any potential conflicts with the college football season.
While Cribbs says he roots for USC in every game that the Gamecocks aren’t playing the Tigers, his fianceé doesn’t reciprocate the feeling. Last season, she couldn’t even watch a Clemson game with him, as the Tigers won their first national championship since 1981.
This year has been better, but should the Tigers make another run in the College Football Playoffs, don’t expect Crafts to wear Orange, not even the Clemson gear her family has given to Cribbs as gifts.
“Oh no,” she said, later smiling when the subject of kids came up.
When asked which college football team the kids would root for Cribbs said it would be up to them to choose, but Crafts had another answer.
“Carolina,” she said without hesitation.
Definitely a house divided, but still a happy house.