The Fairfield Ludlowe season-opening football game Thursday night was suspended at Lyman Hall with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter at Fitzgerald Field in Wallingford. Game officials, as instructed by state high school football rules, halted play when a lightning strike was clearly visible from the field before 7:30 p.m.
The game will pick up from that point on Friday at 3:30 p.m., pending approval from David G. Title, superintendent of Fairfield schools. Fairfield Ludlowe Athletic Director David Schulz said Thursday night that approval, rejection or modification by Title might not come until Friday morning. Tentative plans were being made on Thursday night by both teams.
The Falcons were leading 24-7. Lyman Hall had the ball on the Ludlowe 21-yard line following a drive of 59 yards on six plays. The Trojans gained possession on a kickoff after Falcons quarterback Matt White powered his way in for a 1-yard touchdown run and the 17-point lead.
Lyman Hall Athletic Director Amy Labas asked the head game official by phone in the late morning Thursday whether the start time could be pushed up a half-hour from 6 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Labas was told yes. Some other games in the state changed kickoff times as well in attempts to complete games before the storm's arrival.
Once a game is suspended, CIAC protocol dictates that play cannot be resumed for 30 minutes after lightning is detected in the area. A playing field must be lightning-free for a half-hour. When lightning became repetitive, the officials consulted with school administrators. After checking the latest weather forecast models, game and school officials agreed it would be pointless to wait for the storm to pass.
Coaches, players and fans were notified. Many were waiting for the storm to pass inside the high school gym. A few fans had already left by the time the decision not to resume later in the evening was reached nearly 20 minutes after play had been stopped.
Fairfield Ludlowe took a 12-0 lead within two minutes of the second quarter on a first-quarter 28-yard touchdown run by Patrick O'Leary and a second-quarter 8-yard touchdown reception by Michael Arman. The Falcons pushed their lead to 18-7 late in the first half on Warren Davis's 5-yard scoring run through the middle of Lyman Hall's defense untouched.
The resumption of the game had to be scheduled so as not to interfere with the Jewish High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, observed from sundown on Friday until sunset on Saturday.