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Mead overcomes Post Falls, storms

Mead brought the thunder in a dominating first half Friday night.

Then Mother Nature brought the lightning, forcing a 90-minute delay before the Panthers took a 41-3 nonleague football win – cut short because of more lightning – over Post Falls at Roos Field in Cheney.

The Panthers shrugged off the delay and the continuing rain, coasting to an easy win in their season opener.

“You’ve got to keep plugging away,” Mead coach Benji Sonnichsen said. “We have a saying in our program: ‘Setback, comeback.’ ”

The Panthers got off to a slow start against a Post Falls team that was coming off a 22-7 victory at Sandpoint a week earlier. A game-opening Trojans drive covered 73 yards but stalled at the 7 and Post Falls settled for a field goal.

The 3-0 lead didn’t last, as Mead recovered two fumbles in less than a minute to seize a 12-3 advantage and all the momentum.

A muffed punt led to the first of four first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Payton Loucks, an 11-yarder to Lucas Bacon. Moments later, a fumbled kickoff return set up Loucks’ 1-yard scoring pass to Joseph Heitman.

While Post Falls gained just 116 yards in the first half – all of it on the ground – the Panthers used a balanced offense and two more fumbles to pull away.

Bacon scored again in the second quarter, hauling in a 17-yarder despite being held by a defender. Running back E.J. Bade capped the first-half scoring with a 58-yard catch and run to make it 25-3.

With 17 seconds left in the first half, Mead had a 25-3 lead and the ball at the Post Falls 2-yard line. But a sudden burst of lightning sent players and fans scrambling for the exits.

Heavy rain followed as a storm system moved through the Spokane area from the southwest. More lightning strikes followed, leaving fans huddled under any cover they could find.

At one point, it looked doubtful that the game would continue, but the lightning stopped and the game was resumed at 8:35 p.m.

After the break, Mead settled for a field goal that pushed the lead to 28-3. The Panthers put the game away on a long run by Cody Connall and a 65-yard interception return by Win Lombard.

Moments after Lombard’s pick, another lightning strike ended the game with 5:48 left.

Kaden Nelson led Post Falls with 117 yards rushing, while Levi Irish picked up 72 yards on the ground for the Trojans.