ATHENS – When referee Hubert Owens made his announcement, he ended up having to repeat it: Georgia’s game against Louisiana-Monroe was suspended because lightning was spotted in the area.
The lightning had not been seen or heard inside the stadium, at least from the press box side. The skies were cloudy but not foreboding, and there was no rain.
Nonetheless by rule the game was suspended automatically for 30 minutes, the teams sent to the locker room, for a delay that ended up lasting an hour.
A team spokesman said there are weather stations set up to detect lightning within the area, which likely was what stopped the game. The rule is that any lightning strike within eight miles of the stadium causes the game to halt.
Georgia was leading 35-14 with 8:35 left in the third quarter when play was stopped. The lightning apparently continued, as the game did not resume after 30 minutes, and by 2:45 p.m. a hard rain began to fall in the stadium.
Play was initially stopped at 2:11 p.m., just as Louisiana-Monroe’s offense was taking the field for its second possession of the second half. Each time lightning is detected the 30-minute clock re-starts.