Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Lightning threat suspends mistake-prone half

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Notre Dame Stadium was evacuated at halftime of Saturday's home opener because of a severe thunderstorm warning. The mistake-prone Irish were trailing South Florida 16-0.

University officials asked fans to leave the stadium and seek shelter in nearby buildings after tracking several storms featuring cloud-to-ground lightning. A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for the South Bend Area until 11 p.m. CST. Teams will remain in the locker room for at least 30 minutes until referees determine it is safe to return to the field

It is believed to be the first weather delay in Notre Dame football history.

If there was a bright side on a day when dark clouds hung over the stadium, lightning flashed and the Irish produced a mudslide of mistakes, it's that the season has just begun and already Notre Dame has its worst half of football behind it. 

At least they better hope so if they want to keep their BCS dreams alive.

It would be understandable if young players were making all the blunders. Earlier in the week, coaches talked about how inexperience often leads to inexplicable mistakes, but it was veterans responsible for the gaffes that had fans booing the home team as it headed through the tunnel at halftime.

First it was senior Jonas Gray being stripped near the goal line after Notre Dame had marched efficiently downfield on the first series of the game. Kayvon Webster picked up the ball on one bounce and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown to silence the crowd. 

Back-to-back facemask penalties on safety Harrison Smith, a team captain making his 35th career start, set up a short field goal to put the Bulls up 13-0 with 1:08 left in the first quarter. 

Cierre Wood scampered into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown only to have it called back because of a holding penalty on Michael Floyd, who is one of the most decorated receivers in Notre Dame history. The drive ended with Crist, a senior who beat out sophomore Tommy Rees for the starting job, underthrew Theo Riddick in the end zone, allowing Kevekeyan Lattimore to intercept.

It didn't stop there, as Riddick muffed a punt that set up USF'S final field goal. Crist later threw behind tight end Tyler Eifert on third down late in the half, resulting in coach Brian Kelly giving him a verbal lashing on the sideline that lasted several minutes. 

Officials will meet with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and South Florida coach Skip Holtz to determine how much time both teams need to warm up and get ready to play. It may take even longer for fans to re-enter the stadium. 

Meanwhile, a game must last at least three quarters to be considered official.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on September 3, 2011 4:21 PM.

Tidbits from last Kelly PC before opener was the previous entry in this blog.

Teams taking field as game will be resumed is the next entry in this blog.

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