116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Almost exactly two hours after the start of a litany of lightning delays during the Nevada-Iowa football game, a large boom came from the north end of the field.
Iowa Athletics staff set off a flurry of fireworks from the scoreboard above the north end zone. The pyrotechnics had to be fired before the permit expired, a team spokesman explained, and it’s unsafe to not ignite them after they’re loaded.
The sudden fireworks was just one part of what was a bizarre Saturday night — well, actually Saturday night and Sunday morning — as Iowa outlasted Mother Nature to defeat Nevada, 27-0.
From start to finish, the game took about seven hours. Lightning delays took 80, 110 and 46 minutes, respectively. It was the second, third and fourth weather delays in Kinnick Stadium history.
“It’s unusual for sure,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “There’s no way to prepare for it.”
The game went almost two hours before the lightning became an issue.
The first delay at Kinnick ended at 9:56 p.m., only for the lightning to pick up nine minutes later. Fans who waited the 80 minutes saw 10 plays before the next delay.
The second lightning delay ended at 11:55 p.m. Fans waited about two hours, only to see one play. A Nevada pass to its running back was dropped. Then lightning struck again, and the third delay began at 11:57 p.m.
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras said some of his teammates played card games during the various delays, which combined to take three hours and 56 minutes.
“I was playing games on my phone with other guys,” Petras said.
Stumble Guys, to be exact.
“Anything you can to keep your mind free is good,” Petras said. “You got to protect your focus.”
Wide receiver Nico Ragaini, like Petras, was playing games on his phone.
“I really thought it was going to get canceled,” Ragaini said.
The team had sandwiches delivered to the locker room. Ragaini took one although fellow wide receiver Arland Bruce IV abstained, knowing “we were going to have to go out there and finish the game.”
Wide receiver Keagan Johnson and defensive lineman Noah Shannon were among players not to see time after the third lightning delay.
Johnson was in his first game back from an injury, and Shannon has been dealing with a “nagging injury” and wasn’t “real effective,” Ferentz said.
“(Johnson) just didn’t feel like he could get loose,” Ferentz said. “Such unusual circumstances."
It was weird for more than just players.
With little security in effect after the third lightning delay, a fan brought their dog to the final part of the game.
Fans improvised the I-O-W-A chant because almost all the fans remaining were in the west stands.
At one point, security told TV reporters the game was canceled and asked for their photo/video vests back, per a KGAN-TV reporter. But the game wasn’t actually canceled, leading to more confusion on social media.
The postgame sandwiches for media and other game personnel came out in the second weather delay.
The late finish meant Ferentz was answering questions from reporters Sunday at 2:17 a.m. He thinks it’s his first last time he was “having breakfast without sleeping” since being a chaperone for junior prom. Now, his youngest child is 28 years old.
Another late night came to mind where Ferentz “ended up in a Waffle House” in Atlanta, but he opted not to elaborate on that experience.
“I wasn’t playing or participating,” Ferentz said. “I was a spectator.”
This time, he wasn’t spectating. He was winning.
“Very happy for our players and for the team,” Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes even had fireworks to celebrate, albeit three hours early.