A little ahead of schedule to beat expected weather, the University of Texas’ Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps battalion arrived in Waxahachie on Thursday on its way to deliver the game ball to the Cotton Bowl in time for Saturday’s Red River Showdown against rival Oklahoma.

The midshipmen crossed the Rogers Street pedestrian bridge at about 3 p.m., where they stopped for a refreshment break. They then continued their run through town on their way north toward Dallas and were expecting to complete their run later Thursday night.

Members of the UT battalion take turns each year carrying the game ball and running it north, from Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, to the Cotton Bowl. Members of OU’s battalion will do the same, running south. The runners usually begin on Wednesday night, but this year the run began on Tuesday night.

“This is our 33rd year doing this,” said Midshipman 1st Class Elias Terrazas, who is the UT battalion commander this semester. “Every year we receive the ball at the Texas Fight rally from whoever is the head coach that year; this year it’s coach (Tom) Herman. From that night we’ll proceed to start our run to Dallas where we’ll take the ball and run it all the way to the Cotton Bowl, where we’re going to deliver the ball back to Coach Herman on Saturday morning before they start their game against OU.”

Terrazas said the battalion always takes weather into consideration, especially this year with forecasted storms expected to hit later Thursday, followed by a major cooldown with temperatures possibly touching the 30s by Saturday morning.

“This year we were blessed with cloud coverage for the majority of the time,” Terrazas said. “So we were definitely happy with that.”

After a day of rest, the two battalions will play a flag football game on Saturday morning with bragging rights for the year on the line — followed of course by the main event.

“We’re also looking at the game Saturday and seeing that it’s probably going to be a little chilly,” Terrazas said. “But our hard part’s going to be over by then.”