Boston College football entered Wednesday’s SERVPRO First Responder Bowl eying its second postseason victory since 2007 and, more importantly, its first eight-win season since 2009. The Eagles were well on their way to reaching both of those marks after stringing together an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on their first series of the game and holding No. 23 Boise State to just 33 total yards of offense in the opening nine and a half minutes of play.
But Mother Nature had other plans.
At 1:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, lightning struck within the eight-mile radius of Cotton Bowl Stadium, resulting in a 30-minute delay. The teams jogged off the field with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter and BC leading the Broncos, 7-0. Thanks to seven more lighting strikes, a one hour and 20-minute delay turned into a full-on cancellation—the Eagles’ first in their 80 years of bowl game history—signifying an abrupt end to the 2018 campaign.
Another strike, unfortunately it means the clock resets on the delay…
— First Responder Bowl (@FRBowl) December 26, 2018
Every lightning strike reset the clock, meaning that each time lightning struck within the aforementioned area, 30 minutes—plus a 10-minute warm up period—were tacked on to the revised start time. Despite a brief downpour, rain was hardly the problem. It was the eight lightning strikes—all of which were recorded during the hour and 20 minute delay—that kept the teams off the field. Prospects of playing the game later in the day weren’t great either. In fact, the forecast for Dallas, Texas showed chances of thunderstorms all the way up until 3 a.m.
Eventually, at approximately 3:20 p.m., team and game officials met and decided to cancel the bowl, rendering Wednesday’s score and statistics obsolete. Officially, the game was ruled as a no-contest. Set to broadcast both the Quick Lane Bowl (Minnesota Vs. Georgia Tech at 5 p.m.) and Cheez-It Bowl (California Vs. TCU at 9 p.m.), ESPN would have likely had to bump the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl to another channel—nevertheless, the cancellation was attributed to the severe Dallas weather, as stated in the BC Athletics press release.
“Can’t make this up … We all wanted to play—all of the work and effort and the 15 practices that go into a game like this, to have it taken from you, that’s a tough decision, but it’s made easy by thinking about the guys. Being in the locker room for four or five hours and then having to come back out on a wet field, warm up. Your injury, you’re asking for it,” Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond told reporters, per BC Athletics.
There’s no telling what would have happened if the game was played in entirety, but BC (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) and a now-healthy A.J. Dillon were certainly in the driver’s seat when lightning struck.
Projected first-round NFL Draft pick Zach Allen was ruled out with an ankle injury that he suffered in the regular season finale against Syracuse, but the pass rush appeared just fine. On the first drive of the game, Brandon Barlow pressured Boise State (10-3, 8-2 Mountain West) quarterback Brett Rypien, forcing the four-year starter to step up in the pocket. Rypien stumbled into the presence of Wyatt Ray, taking a sack in the process. The Eagles, on the other hand, didn’t need any time to find their footing.
Anthony Brown—who started 4-of-4 for 54 yards—got the Broncos to bite on the play-action fake, and Dillon looked like himself again, barreling through the trenches for chunk yardage. The Eagles converted two third downs on their opening drive, the second of which culminated in Dillon shedding a tackle in the upper level and scampering for a 19-yard score.
Boise State pulled out its first gadget play on the ensuing series, but came up empty and ultimately stalled near midfield. The teams traded punts before trotting off the field with five minutes and eight seconds left in the quarter for the lightning delay.
BC was outgaining the Broncos, 96-33, in total yards and had all of the momentum on its side. To say the cancellation came as a shock to the college football world would be an understatement.
Featured Image by Richard W. Rodriguez / AP Photo