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Notre Dame game suspended twice because of storms

Updated: September 3, 2011 11:08PM



Notre Dame’s game against South Florida was suspended — twice — because of weather conditions. The game has since been resumed.

On-field officials stopped the game with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter and USF leading 23-13 as another round of thunderstorms were headed toward South Bend.

Officials again waved the teams off the field and asked fans to leave the stadium as a new storm approached.

The teams had an extended halftime of 2 hours, 10 minutes and the stadium was evacuated as two storms with heavy lightning hit South Bend. South Florida led 16-0 at the half.

University officials asked fans to leave the stadium and seek shelter in nearby buildings after tracking several storms featuring cloud-to-ground lightning. A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for the South Bend Area until 11 p.m. CST. Teams will remain in the locker room for at least 30 minutes until referees determine it is safe to return to the field

If there was a bright side on a day when dark clouds hung over the stadium, lightning flashed and the Irish produced a mudslide of mistakes, it’s that the season has just begun and already Notre Dame has its worst half of football behind it.

At least they better hope so if they want to keep their BCS dreams alive.

It would be understandable if young players were making all the blunders. Earlier in the week, coaches talked about how inexperience often leads to inexplicable mistakes, but it was veterans responsible for the gaffes that had fans booing the home team as it headed through the tunnel at halftime.

First it was senior Jonas Gray being stripped near the goal line after Notre Dame had marched efficiently downfield on the first series of the game. Kayvon Webster picked up the ball on one bounce and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown to silence the crowd.

Back-to-back facemask penalties on safety Harrison Smith, a team captain making his 35th career start, set up a short field goal to put the Bulls up 13-0 with 1:08 left in the first quarter.

Cierre Wood scampered into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown only to have it called back because of a holding penalty on Michael Floyd, who is one of the most decorated receivers in Notre Dame history. The drive ended with Crist, a senior who beat out sophomore Tommy Rees for the starting job, underthrew Theo Riddick in the end zone, allowing Kevekeyan Lattimore to intercept.

It didn’t stop there, as Riddick muffed a punt that set up USF’S final field goal. Crist later threw behind tight end Tyler Eifert on third down late in the half, resulting in coach Tom Kelly giving him a verbal lashing on the sideline that lasted several minutes.



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