BREWER – Mud Bowl ’06, Thunder Dome, Lions Lightning, Witches Washout, Doyle Field Deluge…
Whatever they end up calling the Friday night monsoon in which they tried to play a Pine Tree Conference Class B football game between Brewer and Belfast, those who were there will just remember the downpour that thoroughly soaked everyone to the skin and being very, very wet.
Thunder and lightning brought a halt to the proceedings with 8:40 left in the third period with Belfast leading 16-0.
The game will be resumed from the point at which it was suspended on Belfast High’s field at 7 p.m. tonight.
“We knew it would be wet, but the thing was if not for the lightning, even if it was raining harder, we could have gotten the game in,” said Brewer athletic director Dennis Kiah.
With Brewer driving deep into Belfast territory and the visiting Lions holding their 16-0 advantage, a big, bright burst of lightning followed by a booming thunder clap stopped the Witches’ drive on third down with 6 yards to go on the Lions’ 13-yard line.
Officials got everyone off the field; players, fans, officials and coaches took cover; and the game clock was set to 30 minutes – the time mandated by Maine Principals Association rules to wait after a lightning flash before resuming play. Every time lightning strikes, the clock is reset.
“With conditions worsening, we figured there was no way we’d get it in,” said Belfast athletic director Terry Kenniston.
With the decision made to suspend the game, the remaining question was where and when to resume it.
One thing became apparent quickly. It wouldn’t be finished at Doyle Field as Kiah was informed there wouldn’t be enough Brewer Parks and Recreation Department workers available to ready the field for further play today.
“The field was in really bad condition and there wasn’t a good chance we’d be able to get it ready in time,” Kiah said.
Kenniston suggested finishing it at his high school field.
“I figured we could find another site up this way. We talked about Hampden, but he was booked for the full day,” Kenniston said. “So I said ‘Well, our field’s available if you want to come down.'”
“I thought it was only fair since they came up here to play and couldn’t finish,” Kiah said.
The suspension of the football game, and the conditions that forced it, were a first for both athletic directors.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in football. In fact, I’ve never been associated with any game that’s been suspended like this in any sport,” Kenniston said. “I’ve umpired 25 years and seen some baseball games ended, but nothing like this.”
“I’ve been coaching or administrating for 36 years and I’ve never had a similar situation to this happen before,” Kiah said. “We had a power outage once in an exhibition game, but nothing like this.”
The rain was bad enough, but the thunderstorm surprised everyone like a safety blitz.
“Dennis and I talked a lot today and we knew it was going to be wet, but we kept looking at the radar and never saw the potential for thunder or lightning coming and media reports I saw never mentioned any,” Kenniston said. “But, we did have some people who drove up from Hancock and Belfast who said they saw lightning every now and then on the drive up.”
Speaking of drives, the 3-4 Lions took an early 10-0 lead before even getting the ball for their second offensive possession. Belfast kicked off, but kicked it low and short down the right sideline for an improvised pooch/onside kick that was recovered by Ricky Bernosky on Brewer’s 32.
Jon Walsh capped a six-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run and Travis Lee ran off left tackle for a two-point conversion 2 minutes, 33 seconds into the game.
Brewer went on offense after getting the kickoff at the Br-10 but had to punt three plays later. The snap sailed high over punter Dylan Fitzpatrick’s head into the end zone and bounced out the back end for a safety to make it 10-0 Lions.
Belfast made it 16-0 with 21 seconds left in the half when quarterback Jake Arthers finished an eight-play, 40-yard drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Walsh. The conversion rush failed as the ball was fumbled.
Brewer, also 3-4, was led by fullback Doug Noddin, who broke a 55-yard run late in the first quarter and helped get the Witches to the Be-12, but the Witches turned it over on downs. Noddin had 15 carries for 111 yards before the game was halted.