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Virginia head coach Mike London watches the rain fall from the door to the locker room after lightning from a storm caused officials to evacuate Scott Stadium during the first half of the Cavaliers’ game against BYU on Saturday in Charlottesville.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE - While the school does not keep records for such events, the University of Virginia can be reasonably certain that Saturday's evacuation of Scott Stadium was the first for a regular-season football game.
That was the word from Dr. John Risher, a 103-year-old former Virginia football player who was in uniform the day Scott Stadium opened in 1931.
Risher and his Lynchburg sidekick, Paul Wisman, have been working in the UVa press box since the 1950s and were longtime spectators before that. Neither could remember a time when fans were asked to leave the stadium because of weather.
Others remembered that Scott Stadium was evacuated in 2005 for a Rolling Stones concert, but that was the result of a bomb threat.
As recently as 3 p.m. Saturday, online weather forecasts were showing zero possibility of precipitation in Charlottesville until 8 p.m., but players were sent to the locker room at 4:10 p.m. as the result of a severe lightning warning.
The suspension coincided with the end of the first quarter, at which point the score was 0-0. Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill had just scrambled for a 10-yard gain on a third-and-9, giving the Cougars a first down at the UVa 45-yard line.
The teams had 10 minutes to warm up prior to a resumption of play at 6:20 p.m. and halftime was cut from the customary 15 minutes to 10.
The second half had barely started when a second shower arrived, possibly heavier than the first but without the lightning. Virginia was able to block a punt, setting up a go-ahead touchdown with 12:28 remaining in the third quarter.
"It was a very difficult loss for our team under really unique circumstances," Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
"All kind of thoughts go through your head of whether you're going to play the game [and] what is the best approach to have for our players during this two-hour delay."
Not to be overlooked was Virginia's defensive stand after taking the lead for the last time. BYU got the ball back with 2:36 left but turned it over on downs after four straight incompletions from its 41.
"I was shocked a little bit," Hill said. "I was feeling really confident. We had a chance to [come back] and score and Virginia held. "
By the numbers
Sophomore Ian Frye's 53-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer was tied for the third-longest field goal in school history behind 56-yarders by Kenny Stadlin and Rafael Garcia. Frye was 3-for-5 on field goals as a redshirt freshman in 2012, none for more than 40 yards.
Virginia next week
The Cavaliers will entertain third-ranked Oregon at 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium. It will be UVa's first meeting with the Ducks, 66-3 winners Saturday over visiting Nicholls State.