Bulldogs Beat

Lightning delays, ends Georgia’s season opener

Georgia offensive lineman John Theus (71), his teammates and the Georgia cheerleaders make their way to cover after lightning was detected in the vicinity during the second half Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
Georgia offensive lineman John Theus (71), his teammates and the Georgia cheerleaders make their way to cover after lightning was detected in the vicinity during the second half Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. bcabell@macon.com

ATHENS -- Lightning delays are uncommon in college football, but having two in one game and having the game called as a result is almost unheard of.

Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert, a junior, said he had “maybe one” in high school but hasn’t ever seen it at the college level.

But all the team could do was make the most of it Saturday as the Bulldogs won 51-14. For Georgia, the lightning delay looked a lot like the postgame of a Little League baseball game -- there were snacks, and Lambert even took a short nap.

“Guys were eating PBJs and some sandwiches and a little Chick-fil-A here and there,” head coach Mark Richt said.

“I laid down with a towel over my head and took a quick nap,” Lambert said. “Everyone was stretching, trying to eat a little bit. It was like a second halftime.”

Of course, the Bulldogs did more than that during their 61-minute break due to the weather in the third quarter, and they needed to.

After dominating much of the first half, the Bulldogs’ defense caved and allowed Louisiana-Monroe to score its first touchdown. The Warhawks came out firing and scored again, bringing the score to 35-14, which Georgia followed by another scoreless drive.

Then the lightning struck.

“We thought they did a better job than we did during halftime of getting everybody ready to play,” Richt said. “Then we got a do-over, we got a chance to come out of a break and see if we can take the momentum. That’s the thing we focused on the most, trying to change the momentum. We had to take advantage of it.”

Georgia did just that, blocking a punt on the next Louisiana-Monroe drive for a safety and putting up two more touchdowns.

Senior right tackle Kolton Houston joked that Georgia has been preparing all spring for lightning delays like this one. The game was stopped with less than 10 minutes remaining after the second call for lightning.

“I think not having an indoor (practice facility) makes us more prepared than other teams,” Houston said. “We’re used to having storm delays in practice and having to go sit down for an hour, and I think that sort of showed. They came out hot after halftime, we were sort of sluggish, but after that long hour, hour and 15 minute delay we came back clicking on all cylinders.”

The ordeal also brought up a general discussion about the lightning policy in college football. The official public address announcement said that the stoppage resulted from lightning “within 15 miles of the stadium,” a pretty wide distance.

“Back in the day, you would hold a cat out, and if the cat didn’t get wet, you practiced,” Richt said. “Nowadays you got this radar, and if you get one strike within a certain mileage you’re guaranteed to shut down for 30 minutes.”

He did add, that “We’ve got to be safe” and said that the decisions to end the game was a collective decision “between the coaches and the (athletics directors).”

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