Delay reaches 'uncharted territory' for MSU, Penn State

Matt Charboneau
Michigan State players walk off the field because of a weather delay with 7:58 left in the second quarter.

East Lansing — There’s no actual record, but hardly anyone can remember a delay like the one at Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

As No. 24 Michigan State was hosting No. 7 Penn State, the Nittany Lions held a 14-7 lead with 7:58 left in the second quarter and the Spartans driving into Penn State territory. But after an incomplete pass from Michigan State was reviewed, the officials announced that lightning was in the area and play was being delayed.

That’s not a big deal. It happens all the time.

However, few could predict that it would be three hours and 22 minutes until play would resume.

“The weather situation is something,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years, I’ve never been a part of a three hours and 22-minute delay.”

How much it affected each team is hard to say, but Michigan State came out on top, 27-24, thanks to a last-second field goal from Matt Coghlin.

It made the wait well worth it for the Spartans

More: Coghlin’s winner for MSU prophesied by a bible verse

“We just sat in the locker room, had some food,” Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke said. “We actually had our post-game meal, that was supposed to be after the game, we had it during break. Guys just tried to relax, listen to headphones, close our eyes a little bit and just try to get a little rest for the rest of the game when it finally started up.”

Some even wanted to get a fresh start.

“I saw a guy come out of the shower,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “I looked at him, he was like, ‘I just gotta be fresh coach.’ So, you know, that was uncharted territory.”

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said there as constant communication during the delay between the teams, the MSU Police as well as he and Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour.

“The first focus for us is always on the student-athletes,” Hollis said. “That was always at the forefront, both Michigan State and Penn State student-athletes.”

When it was time to get ready to play again, the Spartans said they flipped a switch

“I remember they gave us a 30-minute warning,” wide receiver Hunter Rison said. “Coach (Ken) Mannie came in there and said, ’30-minute warning,’ and I won’t kid you, everybody just got up and started screaming. Everybody just got hyped up. That’s the team we have. We’re itching just to go out there and prove our point. So, once they gave us the 30-minute warning we started stretching and getting our pads back on. We just went out there and played.”

More: 'Matured' receivers give MSU's Lewerke plenty of options

Hollis said both teams have plenty of space to spread out during the delay and when the teams returned to play the final 7:58 of the second quarter, both Dantonio and Franklin had agreed to take a full halftime.

That led to another break before the second half was played without any stoppages.

The field also held up well as some puddles had formed but were pushed away quickly before play resumed as MSU officials praised turf manager Amy Fouty.

“Exceptionally well,” said deputy athletic director Greg Ianni when asked about how the field performed. “Mark and Amy went out to check the field and there was standing water all over and by the time the teams came out most of the water had percolated out, so it’s in pretty good shape.”