Thompson, who played Cruise’s girlfriend, Lisa, in the movie, recorded a video greeting that was posted on the Internet Friday and shown during the Johnstown pep rally. She also Tweeted a photograph of her and Cruise from the movie set.
Nelson, who is working on his NBC series “Parenthood,” sent a statement that was read prior to the game.
Cruise’s representatives said the actor was working and unavailable.
“This was so huge you don’t want to take the exuberance out of the kids,” Johnstown coach Tony Penna Jr. said. “We really didn’t try to fight that stuff. It ended up becoming a lot bigger than even we thought. You just had to embrace it. The community was excited. The school was excited, and they’re kids.”
Former Aliquippa football coach Don Yannessa made the ceremonial coin toss. Yannessa, a member of the PSFCA Hall of Fame, served as technical director for the football scenes in the movie and played the role of the Walnut Heights coach.
Like Ampipe in the movie, Johnstown fell behind in the game, trailing 17-6 before mounting a second-half comeback.
Unlike the film, Johnstown – and Ampipe – held on to win.
“We got one back for coach Nickerson,” Penna said, referring to Nelson’s character, coach Vern Nickerson, whose play-calling cost Ampipe the game against Walnut Heights. “The rain and everything, there was a whole lot of symbolism. We even fumbled a snap. I said, ‘This is starting to sound like the movie.’”