Truman can still get its first win this weekend – provided the Patriots can find a way to rally.
Friday night’s homecoming football game with Ruskin at Independence All-School Stadium/Norm James Field was suspended with 4 minutes, 50 seconds to play in the third quarter because of lightning. Truman activities director Eric Holm’s lightning detector was showing lightning between three and eight miles from the stadium.
“It’s been kind of back and forth – eight to 20, three to eight,” Holm said. “Plus, you have to use your eyes, too. When you can see it, that’s a big part of it (suspending play) as well.”
Play will resume at 3 p.m. Saturday at All-School Stadium, with the Patriots trailing 14-3 in the Suburban Middle Six meeting. Truman coach Gregg Webb admitted it would be a challenge to get the Patriots (0-5, 0-3) ready to play again on short notice.
“But it’s challenging every day,” Webb said. “It’ll be a deal. We might have some kids show up, not show up. We just don’t know about what’s coming. At noon, we’ll see who shows up and we’ll go from there. That’s what we deal with on a daily basis.”
For Ruskin, the suspension of play was “tough,” Eagles coach Damon Fishback said.
“When you’re ahead and you’ve really got a lot of momentum, it’s really difficult to stop and get everybody back up to finish the game,” Fishback stated during an interview before the decision had been made. “It’s disappointing, but we’re going to make the best of it.”
Ruskin (0-5, 0-2 Middle Six) grabbed their momentum with Montel Berry’s first-quarter punt return for a touchdown, which gave them a 6-0 lead.
“It really got us off to a good start,” Fishback said.
Truman cut it to 6-3 on Brenden Chandler’s 30-yard field goal with 26.7 seconds left in the second quarter.
Ruskin made it 14-3 by opening the second half with a seven-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Darius Walker’s 6-yard TD run and Kenny Scott’s two-point conversion run with 9:32 remaining in the third quarter. The teams traded punts before play was suspended.
At first, a 30-minute delay was announced, prompting a herd of fans to exit the packed parking lots around William Chrisman High School. Conferences involving Holm, the referee and the head coaches followed, as did phone conversations with John Hill, who assigns officials to games. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., the decision was announced.
In anticipation of severe weather forecasts, many schools moved up their starting times Friday. However, that wasn’t an option for Truman because of the logistics involved, according to Holm. There were homecoming activities to consider and a golden anniversary celebration was scheduled, he explained.
“We knew we might run into this, but it wasn’t feasible for us to notify that many people and change that many plans on short notice,” Holm said.
The Patriots will have the ball first-and-10 at the Ruskin 39-yard line when play resumes.
“If we can do something with that drive, then it’s a ballgame,” Webb said. “If we can’t, then we’re in big trouble.”