STILLWATER, Oklahoma (AP) — After an annual college football game they call Bedlam, thousands of Oklahoma State fans jumped, ran and pushed their way onto the field in joy. The Cowboys had just taken apart the Oklahoma Sooners, their bitter and often more successful rivals. The Cowboys' first national championship suddenly seemed within reach.
But fans were pressing toward the field, which is separated from the stands by eight-foot stone wall. Some students jumped down, others were pushed. The crowd pulled down the goal posts, and in the 45 minutes or more it took police to restore order Saturday night, some fans were trampled as the crowd struggled to reach the exits.
"You couldn't put an army out there to keep that many people off the field," Oklahoma State University president Burns Hargis told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
At least 12 people were injured in the chaos on the field after an emotional win in the heart of football country.
"Thousands of people stormed the field. You couldn't move, there were so many people," said Michael Authement, who heads the command post at emergency medical provider LifeNet EMS. "It was a nasty deal."
The field is not designed to allow huge crowds to get in or out. Narrow staircases on the north, south and west ends are the only ways to reach the field from the seating areas. There are two ramps on the east end, which has no seats.
To get back off the field, fans were crunched together and pushing to make their way to the exits.
The public address announcer had warned fans not to storm the field, but "we just laughed," said Alex Lillibridge, a 19-year-old freshman. Fans started jumping the wall in the last seconds of Oklahoma State's 44-10 win, and Lillibridge said that soon after he followed.
Some people said they were forced to jump because of the crush of fans.
"A girl pushed me over the wall," said 21-year-old Jennifer Payne. "Luckily, I didn't get injured, but I didn't have control of when I jumped off the wall. You just moved with the crowd."
The university said Sunday that one student who was injured was upgraded to guarded, stable condition after being flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment. Eight other fans were hospitalized, including two who were admitted for surgery on broken ankles. Three others got medical treatment at the stadium and didn't need hospitalization.
Still, the mood in Stillwater on Sunday was not of shock but excitement over what may be the football program's most successful season ever.
Authement said the crowd was so big it took police at least 45 minutes to clear fans from the field at the university's Boone Pickens Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 60,000 people, according to the school's website.
Oklahoma State University police referred questions to the university. Stillwater police said they had a handful of officers at the game, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had no immediate comment.
Before reports of injuries emerged, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he left the field quickly when he saw fans jumping from the wall.
"When they started piling over, I got out of there as fast as I could. ... It was scary," he said.
Associated Press writers Bill Cormier in Atlanta and Jeff Latzke in Stillwater, Oklahoma contributed to this report.