EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The weather delay was almost as long as the game.
Penn State and Michigan State were delayed nearly 3 1/2 hours in the second quarter Saturday because of severe weather, which left both teams trying to figure out the best way to pass the time. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said he was baffled to see someone come out of the shower - even though there was still more football to come once the game resumed.
"I looked at him. I was like ...," Dantonio said while still in a bit of disbelief after the game. "He goes, 'Gotta be fresh, coach.'"
The 24th-ranked Spartans beat the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions 27-24 on a last-second field goal in a game that ended nearly seven hours after it started.
"That was uncharted territory. We had guys laying down. We put games on, college football in the locker room, so they were watching college football. Some took a nap. We ordered some food ," Dantonio said. "I think the biggest thing we did was we let everybody relax and then we got our energy going again."
The Nittany Lions led 14-7 when the game was halted with 7:58 to go in the first half on a chilly, rainy day. There was lightning in the area.
"Our policy here is: Lightning 20 miles out, we put up the announcement to voluntarily leave the stadium, 15 miles out, we take the teams off the field and clear the stadium," said Greg Ianni, Michigan State's deputy athletic director. "It moved in quickly, and then there was a line of storms that followed back from Lansing down to South Bend, and so the last report we got about 3:00 was the storm in South Bend was intensifying, and it looked like we wouldn't get back on the field until 5:15 or 5:30."
Instead, the game was able to resume shortly before 4:40 p.m.
"That storm diverted and went to the south and the east a little bit," Ianni said. "So we didn't get that weather, and that's why we were able to start the game a little earlier."
The Spartans tied the game at 14, then the teams headed back to the locker rooms at halftime like usual.
"Full 20-minute halftime is a football rule. It can be changed by mutual agreement of the two teams," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. "Both coaches felt that once they got back out there, they wanted to have that opportunity to get in and make those adjustments."
It was raining hard again by the time the second quarter ended, but the game went on. There were significantly fewer fans at the stadium after play resumed, but a decent number came back, and the lower-level seats near midfield on both sidelines were well populated.
"They're awesome," Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke said. "It's hard to come back after a three-hour rain delay. ... Very happy for the guys that stayed. They obviously were very loud, and they did a great job cheering us on."
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