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Flashy start

Mead up 21-0, then lightning forces suspension

The first night of Greater Spokane League football took a backseat to lightning.

A severe weather cell moved into the Spokane area about 8:30, shortly after the second half began Thursday night. Eight minutes later, the game was suspended with Mead leading University 21-0 and 9:52 remaining in the third quarter.

About 18 minutes after the delay began, a spectacular lightning strike followed, seemingly just over Joe Albi Stadium, followed by thunder. About 30 minutes later, league secretary Herb Rotchford called the game, which will resume Saturday at Albi at 6 p.m.

Rotchford asked the referees to stop the game so fans could find cover away from the metal bleachers at Joe Albi Stadium. WIAA rules call for games to be delayed when lightning is seen in the vicinity.

With signs that the weather could worsen, Rotchford determined to stop play.

The game will pick up with U-Hi facing a fourth-and-12 situation at its 33-yard line.

“It’s a safety issue,” Rotchford said. “We were watching Doppler and it didn’t look like things would improve.”

The lightning had very little over Mead’s quick-strike rushing attack.

Still, Mead coach Sean Carty thought his team had some rough patches in the first half.

“We had some things we needed to clean up,” Carty said.

Mead received the kick to start the second half, and the Panthers – keeping with the theme – struck quickly. Wingback Garrett Norris busted a counter outside and sprinted 67 yards to the Titans 1.

On the next play, quarterback Matt Wetzel followed his right guard into the end zone just 1:10 in the second half.

While the deficit wasn’t insurmountable for the Titans at halftime, Mead’s 14-0 lead might as well have been 28-0.

The Panthers, behind seven different runners in the first half, churned out 179 yards. Luke Hilmes had five carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns on inside counters of 50 and 42 yards.

On the second TD, Hilmes broke three tackles before shaking loose the final 25 yards.

Mead had 239 yards total offense in the first two quarters to U-Hi’s 57.

Carty said the Panthers could ultimately feature more than seven rushers.

“That’s what we want to do, and we want to do more,” Carty said.

U-Hi senior quarterback Jeff Beaty, in his second year as the starter, struggled. He completed just 1 of 7 attempts in the first half for 11 yards, and threw two incompletions early in the third.