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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Free State to resume at noon today

September 8, 2001

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The remainder of the Firebirds' football game with Shawnee Heights will be played today, starting at noon.

Free State was leading 14-6 and was threatening on the Thunderbirds' 10-yard line with 8:21 remaining in the first half when the game was halted by mutual consent because of lightning.

"Both school districts have a policy that if lightning is between three and eight miles away, you wait," Free State athletics director Steve Grant said. "So we had to wait it out."

After waiting a little less than a hour, a decision was made to resume play.

"We decided the players would warm up 10 minutes in the gym, then another three minutes on the field," Grant said. "But shortly after that, the lightning meters lit up again."

So about 8:45 p.m., about 70 minutes after the game had been halted, officials of both schools decided to come back at noon today.

"Obviously, we're disappointed," Firebirds coach Bob Lisher said. "There's a bunch of guys on the bus hoping for that first W, and we were moving that way."

Free State was, in fact, dominating despite an early gaffe.

The Firebirds started on their own 20-yard line following Brandon Jackson's 16-yard kickoff return. On first down, quarterback Matt Berner tried to hit Jackson on a crossing pattern, but the T-Birds' Trevor Kirkwood intercepted the pass and returned it nine yards to the 21.

Five plays later, fullback Adam Cantrell bolted over from the one. Tim Schwerdt's conversion kick was wide right, but the T-Birds had a 6-0 lead and less than three minutes had expired from the clock.

"We had hoped for a big play early and get as many points as possible because of the weather forecast," Lisher said, "but it turned into kind of reverse strategy."

Still, the Firebirds wasted little time moping by marching 80 yards in 10 plays on their next possession. Half those yards came on a 40-yard scamper by fullback Walker Douglas.

Berner capped the march with a three-yard run following Douglas into the end zone. Chris Treanor added the extra point at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter.

After the kickoff, Shawnee Heights ran four plays before Kirkwood fumbled and Free State lineman Mike Folkmann fell on it at the T-Birds' 39.

From there, the Firebirds drove 61 yards in seven plays, scoring on the first play of the second quarter when sophomore Cole Douglas, playing in his first varsity game, took a swing pass from Berner and broke two tackles while racing 25 yards into the end zone.

Suddenly, Free State led, 14-6.

Shawnee Heights was forced to punt on its next possession, and the Firebirds began on the SH 47. Four plays later, Walker Douglas, Cole's older brother, bolted 22 yards, to the 16.

On the next down, tailback Damienn Patton gained six yards to the 10 and " see you tomorrow.

"We'll get up and go through the same routine. We'll go through the pre-game and it'll be the same as tonight except there won't be a kickoff."

After the warm-ups, the Firebirds will start on the Thunderbirds' 10-yard line, leading 14-6 with 8:21 showing on the clock.

-- Sports editor Chuck Woodling can be reached at 832-7147.

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