At 7:52 p.m., the Saybrook 12-pack erupted.

There were 18 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLIII. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner took the hike from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ one-yard line, found space in the pocket and slanted a short pass into the end zone.

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It got picked off. Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison intercepted Warner’s pass on the goal line and ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown, the longest play in Super Bowl history. In Saybrook, the few dozen football fanatics were screaming.

“No way! No … way!”

Everyone in the room was standing. It was a stark contrast to how they normally watch games: silent and focused on all 22 players on the field.

Instead, Jason Choi ’11, sore from a swim meet, found the energy to jump off the couch, almost spilling his Dr. Pepper.

Across the room, Colin Christman ’11 held both hands high: Touchdown.

There were only four hours of weekend left: just enough time to finish problem sets and papers. But on this given Sunday, there was still time for football. Across campus Sunday night, students gathered in clusters in dining halls over wings and pizza. Some were Steelers fans, while others were pulling for the Cardinals to win their first NFL championship.

At halftime, the 30 students in the Morse College dining hall turned up the volume on 3-foot speakers for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band.

At 8:23 p.m., S’Wings manager Carlos Perez finally took a break. It was the close of his biggest day on the job. Roughly 20 student groups placed orders averaging 400 wings a piece. Still, that total amounted to just half of last year’s, when the New York Giants edged past the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

“This economy, man,” he said. “It’s killing us.”

And without a New England team in the mix, Perez suspected interest — and wing consumption — was down.

In the Bass Library, security guard Will Turcotte turned a computer monitor in the Thain Family Café to face his desk through the glass pane. He was following the game online and rooting for the Steelers.

“I got money on it,” he said.

Turcotte turned to inspect a student’s bag, glancing back to make sure he did not miss anything.

Downstairs in Bass, Nobuhito Iguchi ’10 studied for English 114 in a private study carrel. He was not watching the Super Bowl Sunday: “Not interested,” he said.

Later, in a Trumbull College suite, five friends watched the game’s fourth quarter, riveted. The wings were now bones. Textbooks lay closed on laps. Still, Isaac Wilson ’11 did not think this year’s game measured up to last year’s.

“It’s not nearly as exciting,” Wilson said. “Last year, if you weren’t from New England, you basically wanted the Patriots to lose.”

Wilson and company opted to watch the Super Bowl in their room, rather than a dining hall, because the latter was too crowded. Plus, Wilson said, he wanted to focus on the commercials.

Yordan Marinov ’11 could actually follow the Super Bowl this year. Last January, Marinov — who hails from Bulgaria — “couldn’t understand what was going on,” as he put it.

“Now, I understand almost everything,” Marinov said. “But it’s still not as good as soccer.”