Lightning postpones Central Catholic vs. Mt. Lebanon football game to Saturday

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Friday, October 8, 2021 | 10:28 PM


When Central Catholic visited Mt. Lebanon on Friday night, the game was supposed to be electric, not the weather.

Yet, the clash between the top-ranked teams in WPIAL Class 6A was suspended in the third quarter because of a lightning storm that hung around Mt. Lebanon for more than an hour. The game will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday with the host Blue Devils leading 21-7.

“This is new to me,” Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. “I’ve been in delays where you come back on the field (the same night), but I’ve never come back the next day. I guess if you stick around long enough you do it all.”

Mt. Lebanon coach Bob Palko said he’d also never had a game resume a day later.

“You adapt and adjust,” he said. “You make decisions and go from there. Is it the right thing to do? The wrong thing? I don’t know.”

The game was first delayed shortly before 9 p.m. The stadium bleachers were cleared and the teams waited in the locker rooms until almost 10 p.m., hoping the game could resume, until the contest was officially postponed to Saturday.

“We got both coaches together, the officials together and we looked at the radar,” Mt. Lebanon athletic director John Grogan said. “Unfortunately, the lightning is right above us and it’s moving slow.”

Grogan said there was concern about what time Central Catholic players would arrive home if they continued to wait. The teams decided to restart the game at 10 a.m. because both schools have homecoming dances Saturday night.

Neither team relished an early-morning wake-up call.

“It’s not easy logistically, mentally or emotionally, but we have to do it,” Totten said. “They have to do it too.”

The delay seemed to come at an inopportune time for Mt. Lebanon, which had momentum behind running back Alex Tecza’s 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Blue Devils had allowed Central Catholic to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but then scored 21 unanswered points including a trick-play touchdown pass from wide receiver Eli Heidenreich to quarterback Joey Daniels shortly before the lightning storm.

Daniels dislocated a finger on his nonthrowing hand on the touchdown catch, but Palko said his quarterback could be available Saturday.

“I would assume there would be a little bit of pain,” Palko said, “but we’ll see how it goes.”

The game’s first 15 seconds were a worst-case scenario for Mt. Lebanon. Central Catholic’s Gannon Carothers took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, bringing back memories of the Vikings’ 35-0 win on the same field last October. But this time, Mt. Lebanon battled back.

The Blue Devils used two long drives and a pair of Tecza touchdown runs to take a 14-7 halftime lead.

The first drive covered 84 yards in six plays — including a 58-yard gain on one run by Tecza — and ended with his 3-yard touchdown run. The second TD drive covered 66 yards in four plays, ending with a 43-yard run by Tecza.

Mt. Lebanon opened the second half with a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that ended with Daniels’ catch.

There will be 7 minutes, 7 seconds on the third-quarter clock when play resumes. Central Catholic will face fourth-and-10 at its own 31-yard line.

“We don’t have a crystal ball,” Palko said. “We just hope we can continue to do what we need to do.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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