Wacky ending to Georgia high school football game … say what?

Jackson County’s 14-6 win over Johnson-Gainesville had a bizarre ending.

Well, it really didn’t have an ending at all — the game was called at halftime after a two-hour lightning delay.

The team leading at halftime in a non-classification game is declared the winner if weather remains unsuitable for two hours under GHSA rules, reported the Gainesville Times.

Each time lightning was spotted by the referees, the 30-minute wait to resume action was restarted.

This guy was seen quite a few places on Friday night

This guy was seen quite a few places on Friday night

“We’re going to take it, we’re 1-0, but I don’t like it anymore than anyone else likes it,” Jackson County coach Billy Kirk told the Times.

Ironically, Jackson County was a victim of the same circumstances in its 2007 season-opener, dropping a 14-0 decision to Banks County that was called at halftime.

Friday’s bizarre finish also earned some thunderous comments from Johnson coach Paul Friel.

“I just wish they’d be a little more clear if it’s based on sight or if it’s based on a lightning detector,” he said. “I don’t know what the point of a lightning detector is if there’s any flash and they restart the clock.”

[Click here to read to the rest of the game story]

Now it’s YOUR turn: What is your opinion of the GHSA rule? Is it fair? Do you have a better idea for handling this type of situation? If so, post below.

45 comments Add your comment


August 28th, 2010
8:00 am

Don’t know what the Johnson coach is griping about. The point of the rule is to keep everyone safe. Lightning can come out of nowhere, even if it looks like it’s far off. If it’s in the area, whether you can see it or it registers on a detector, there’s the potential for danger.


August 28th, 2010
8:07 am

I like the rule for two reasons. Obviously the safety, but it also sends the kids home at a predetermined time. My high school waited forever many years ago before the refs finally called it.

Monroe's first Redcoat

August 28th, 2010
9:06 am

I suppose Paul Friel would have felt that the cancellation of the game was warranted if one of his kids had been hit by lightning as the teams came back out onto the field. Hey, coach, WAKE THE HELL UP!!! This rule is in place to protect EVERYBODY, even football coaches who can’t see beyond their own sideline.

In the swamp

August 28th, 2010
10:12 am

Lightning hit Coffee Trojans last night in the form of Ware Co Gators. Only one hurt was the fans and players that expected more this year.

Panther Pride

August 28th, 2010
10:24 am

I think that the Johnson head coach should read the rule book that the GHSA provides for all schools. If he has any problems with their rules, he needs to discuss it with them. I guess his players and other coaches safety is not important.

The Ole Ball Coach

August 28th, 2010
11:04 am

Why not just finish the game on Saturday?


August 28th, 2010
11:50 am

I agree Ole Ball coach. This rule is sort of silly calling a victory at the half. I agree with lightning, no play, but awarding a victory??

Another Ed

August 28th, 2010
12:26 pm

I think the rule makes sense-if there is other lightening in the area. If you know for sure there is no other lightening in the area you might could fudge a little on the 2 hours.

That said, safety of the players is the most important thing. Folks like Coach Friel always get upset when something like this happens, yet get one kid or coach struck by lightening and then they go crazy.

Region 8-AAA

August 28th, 2010
1:25 pm

I attended the Gainesville vs Buford game at City Park last night and lightning flashed off to the southeast pretty much all of the second half and play did continue as scheduled.

big dawg

August 28th, 2010
2:01 pm

I think there were a few games like this along I-85 traveling north. I know that the games at Stephens Co. and Franklin Co. were called because both counties were under a severe thunderstorm warning. I agree with the rule because you have to take in consideration of an open space ie: football field for the kids and most places I have been to have metal bleachers. So the 30 minute rule is a good one, whether or not it should be called after 2 hours, that should be left up to the schools on if they want to resume on Saturday but the Johnson coach should take it as it stands. The game will have no bearing on his teams playoff chances considering it was AAA/AA game.

Michael Carvell

August 28th, 2010
2:04 pm

@The Ole Ball Coach, I like that idea of finishing on Saturday, although I think both coaches would have to agree to resume the next day because there are so many logistics and non-related football factors involved (travel, staffing of officials and security at game, etc.)

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!

August 28th, 2010
3:27 pm

It’s very strange but I don’t recall any problems with “lightning” or weather-related situations when I was in high school. I vividly recall sitting thru a game in South GA in the late 60’s in a driving rainstorm. Actually enjoyed it as it was hot that night. Yes, I do believe there was lightning around. This is another one of those nature-related issues that have been taken over by the “Al Gore types” with their liberal mentality, who think they have to protect everybody from themselves. I can promise you if it’s your time and you are going to get hit by a lightning strike, it will find you wherever you are! This is just another case where GHSA and their administrative cohorts are “gagging on a gnat and swallowing an elephant”. Consider this: There is a greater chance you will be killed by a drunk driver leaving a game than by lightning. Here are the statistics to prove it. According to About.com and their lightning facts, the odds are 1 in 600,000 you will be struck. Only 410 people are killed in GA in an average year. 70% of injuries and deaths occur in the AFTERNOON, so that actually decreases the odds for nighttime strikes. Here is the reason I said what I did about DUI deaths. In 2008(latest stats), 489 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents in GA. Of those killed in accidents, 1 out of every 3 were alcohol-related. Do you ever see law enforcement with roadblocks set up around stadiums before and after games checking for DUI’s? NO? I didn’t think so. As I said this is laden with political overtones, headed by the liberal PC types. They need to let them play, enjoy nature, and keep their noses out of it!


August 28th, 2010
3:55 pm

Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid, you’re an idiot and probably don’t have kids. If you do have kids i worry for them. I would rather my child be somewhere safe than on an open field with lightening all around. You can trust numbers and stats, i’ll trust common sense on this one.


August 28th, 2010
4:12 pm

I was at the game and can tell you it was not safe for play. My daughter is in the band and my young son plays in the county rec. dept football league. I played football for years. No one likes it better than I do. I hate winning in just one half; but, playihng was not an option in that storm. I’m just glad no one was hurt or injured during the wost part.


August 28th, 2010
5:57 pm

If it mattered they would resume the game. PGA shuts down golf tournaments if there’s lightening within 10 miles of the event. Kids are more important than pro golfers

sad day

August 28th, 2010
6:20 pm

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid! …

I lost a team-mate to a lightning strike when I was in high school. We had broken camp on Jekyll Island, and he stayed behind with his family for a short vacation before school started. He was struck walking to the beach long after the storm had passed.

We learned of his death when we arrived back in Athens. Horrible, horrible day. We dedicated the season to him, and won the state championship.

So … if you want to sit in a storm, feel free. But, don’t ask anyone to put their kids at risk.

my own two cents

August 28th, 2010
6:45 pm

I’m sure both the Hart and Franklin County fans wanted to see the 14-14 tie settled, but I don’t think it would have worth the cost to try to finish it on Saturday. Why spend all that money to finish a rivalry game that really has no bearing on who gets into the playoffs for either team? Franklin is in 8AAA and Hart is in 8AA. Although Franklin fans probably would want to see the game finished because they have only beaten Hart once in 20 years.

Dontavius Supremo

August 28th, 2010
7:35 pm

We use a lightning detector at our school, and it’s very sensitive. It does NOT go off (beeps) when all there is is “heat lighting” or “cloud to cloud” lightning. It detects ground strikes, which is what GHSA (and all of us) are concered about. Not all lightning is dangerous. We played a game last Friday with a lot of heat lightning, but only one ground strike. We stopped for 30 minutes, and resumed. Invest in a good detector.

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!

August 28th, 2010
7:45 pm

One correction. That 410 deaths was not just from GA, that was from the entire US and over a period of 98-2008. Thought that sounded too high, so double-checked. The yearly average for the USA is only 62. There were only 23 killed in GA for the that period of 1998-2008. Those people above who had a problem with what I said and live in “paranoia” are the same ones who worry about being killed in an airplane crash, yet will jump on the interstates around Atlanta and drive to the airport. Their chances of being killed are hundreds times greater on the interstates, especially around ATL, than on an airplane. Actually from something else I read, the chances of getting killed in an auto accident in general (not DUI) are greater just driving to the game and back, than being struck by lightning! Yet, you will never be able to convince them of that.

Silver Creek Doug

August 28th, 2010
8:24 pm

I am a GHSA soccer referee and we have the same rule in place.

I don;t think it’s a bad thing. I was nearly killed many years ago trying to get off a golf course in a flash storm.


August 28th, 2010
8:50 pm

Folks…………..better safe than sorry. For a number of years, I was in charge of softball fields for a city. The decision to suspend play or send everyone home was always open to debate. Of course, I got hammered if I suspended play or if I didn’t suspend play. My main rule of thumb was the safety of the players, officials, and spectators. As usual, some days we all eat the bear and other days the bear eats us.

Crazy, but not Stupid!

August 28th, 2010
8:59 pm

Coach, think of it this way; a lightning storm has to start somewhere, what if it is above your head instead of 40 miles away, what’s important here, a football game or safety of all people. Good call on the part of GHSA and the officiating crew for your game!

the truth?

August 28th, 2010
9:40 pm

this is a legitimate rule. its for everyone’s safety, including your team and yourself. how could GHSA chance being held responsible for all of those football players if they would have let them play? don’t be an idiot. its early in the season and if the team is as good as people are saying it is this year, for once, then its not going to matter. a team who lost a game won state last year in AA. you know who i’m talking about. chill out and don’t be a sore loser. take the lose.


August 29th, 2010
12:46 am

Just damn.

Hey TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!: Would that stat matter to you if it were YOUR son who got killed by lightening in a game of football that in all reality is unimportant in the game of life?

wolfbait 67

August 29th, 2010
9:30 am

I agree with 8-AAA…there was lightning to start the Buford/Gainesville game Friday nite, it was 33-0 before Gainesville knew what hit them……Buford-Carver of Columbus state game of the week…….also the lights went out 30 to 45 minutes at halftime but I do not remember and close lightning just in the distance………..good luck to Gainesville the rest of the season……C U N Columbus next Friday


August 29th, 2010
9:35 am

TTTT – You might want to lay off Glen Beck for a while; your post is proof that stats are dangerous in the hands of idiots and demagogues. We won’t try to correct all your woes in one post, but lets hit some highlights.
First, your stat that more people are killed by lightning strikes in the afternoon than in the evening; this is true because lightning is most likely in the afternoon, when heating causes more thunderstorms. Your assertion is the same thing as me noting that more Americans die in blizzards during January than during July.
Second, your assertion regarding driving being more dangerous than lightning. Again, your problem is that you give no frame of reference. More people die driving because driving is necessary – thus more people are on the roads than are outside in a thunderstorm.It’s the same as the airplane argument – the U.S. population spends far more man-hours driving than flying. Even if we cut to a single individual – and a frequent flier at that – the typical American spends thousands of hours each year driving/riding in cars and relatively few in the air. (Air travel is safer than driving by the way, it’s just that the stats you sight create a non-sequitor.)
Finally, contrary to what your friends on Fox tell you, everything that happens isn’t part of a liberal plot to turn the U.S. into a Euro-socialist utopia – NTTIAWWT.
Leave the thinking to the adults, OK?

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

August 29th, 2010
4:51 pm

The rule absolutely makes sense. If this was a region game, then you might want to do something different, but since the game doesn’t impact anyone’s chances of making the playoffs, there is no need to go to the expense of finishing the game on Saturday … or even sticking around until the storm passes on Friday night. Keep the kids, parents, and officials safe, then go home and start preparing for next week’s opponent.


August 29th, 2010
7:15 pm

The Old Ball Coach is right… why not just finish the ball game the next day? If this were the big schools like CAMDEN, NORTHSIDE, PEACHTREE,or one of the powerhouses…the reaction would have been different regardless of the rule! Think about it! You have two (2) nobody:s playing eachother! So the refs, or fans and coaches put no true responsibility behind the game itself! Its easy to just call it quits…For that matter…Lightning didnt just show up…you had a thunderstorm warning…so why even start the game?

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!

August 29th, 2010
7:18 pm

JWH, you may think you have me “pegged” but I have you “pigeon-holed” also. Your convoluted thinking and distorted thought process screams “Progressive” which by the way is defined as a “brainless liberal” and opposed to a regular liberal with just half a brain. You should be proud of your “Algorisms”. You can argue with opinions but facts do not lie. If your going to be struck by lightning, as I said before, it will find you whether at home, or sitting in the grandstands or on the field, at a football game. These same people who are “dripping with paranoia” about nature and its beauty are the same ones who will hand the keys to their teenager on a weekend to face those drivers that grace the highways in various states of stupor.
TO: FBYJ What happens if a team has a streak of unusual bad luck and 3 or 4 of their region games are interrupted by thunderstorms? Let’s say it happens 3 or 4 Friday nights in a row. It can happen as “Mother Nature” is fickle and can play many tricks on us. People need to stop running from nature and learn to just accept it and enjoy it. I would rather be out camping or hiking in the middle of a “Mother Nature’s Fireworks Show” than sitting in a recliner getting fat in front of a TV. Contrary to some people’s opinion, lightning also strikes houses. The weather, good or bad, is our friend. I once heard a tornado chaser say it’s like confronting a mean dog. “You don’t run from it, you just stand there and stare it down.”

Chris F

August 29th, 2010
7:22 pm

Yes, the rule makes sense, BUT lightning threats are tough to gage. As someone has already mentioned, heat lightning, where the clouds light up but no strike occurs, is rarely a big deal. It’s when you see the bolts coming straight down that you better get your fanny to a safe place.

I think the opposing coach has a legitimate gripe if the refs, who I’d imagine are not trained meteorologists, are resetting the clock every time they see a flash in the distance. It’s quite possible it wasn’t even raining at the stadium, but the game was delayed due to some fanciful danger. It reminds of how the lifeguards at the local pool would clear the pool for an absurd length of time whenever they heard (or thought they heard) thunder, even if there were blue skies overhead. “OK, everybody out of the pool! We just heard thunder, and it’s dangerous to be in the water! Go stand under those metal beach umbrellas along the chain link fence!”


August 29th, 2010
9:22 pm

This year the National Federation of State High School Associations and GHSA are advising officials to remove players, coaches, etc from the field of play when thunder is heard in the area. Appendix D of the Football Rule Book states “When thunder is heard, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location with lightning. Suspend play and take shelter immediately.” The guidelines go on to discuss the 30 minute wait period(s).

From the GHSA Constitution & By-Laws.

2.93 Interrupted Games: Any GHSA competition may be interrupted due to human, mechanical, or natural causes when it is necessary to protect the safety of players and spectators. The Executive Director shall have the authority to postpone GHSA events and to direct the procedure for rescheduling when deemed necessary.
(a) The GHSA requires lightning detectors at all outdoor athletic activities.
(1) When a lightning detector indicates a dangerous situation, the game manager will notify the head
official. At that point, the official will suspend play and all participants will go to a place of safety (NOTE: If officials spot lightning before being notified, they may suspend play).
(2) When the detector indicates that it is safe to resume play, the contest may resume in accordance with procedures published in the NFHS Rules Book.
(b) Postponed games are games that are terminated before they actually begin because of weather
problems, emergency situations, or mechanical failures.
(1) The host school should notify the opposing team and officials as early as possible when a contest is postponed.
(2) The host school is responsible for determining whether an event is to be postponed until the time
that game rules turn that responsibility over to game officials except when there is a written contract
for that game. When there is a contract, there must be an agreement between the competing schools about the postponement.
(3) School personnel will agree on the rescheduling of the contest.
(c) Suspended and/or Terminated Games – When game officials suspend a game due to weather issues, the following procedures are in place:
(1) For all Baseball, Softball, Football and Soccer contests involving teams of different classifications, there will be up to a two-hour delay (cumulative) before the contest will be terminated. (See the Baseball and Softball Sections to see the procedures involved with terminated games.)
(a) If the Football or Soccer contest is terminated before it has reached the halfway point, the contest is declared a “no contest.”
(b) If the Football or Soccer contest is terminated after it has reached the halfway point, the score
at the point of termination is final.
(2) For Football, Lacrosse and Soccer contests involving teams of the same classification, all contests will be played to completion.
(a) There will be no mandatory two-hour delay.
(b) The 11:30 curfew will be waived.
(c) Administrators from the competing schools may agree to terminate the contest and resume
competition at the point of interruption at a later time.
(d) The team that is behind may choose not to resume the contest at a later date.

I just had to respond

August 29th, 2010
9:42 pm

I just had to respond to TTTT…

“…the chances of getting killed in an auto accident in general (not DUI) are greater just driving to the game and back, than being struck by lightning! ”

Just because there is less of a chance, does not mean there is no chance. And that is a chance that the GHSA, it’s member schools, and I would think, most people, are not willing to take- nor should they be.

The GHSA has to worry about the things that it can control- it can control whether people under their responsibility are exposed to unnecessary danger from lightning- it cannot control who is on the road before or after the game.

“If your (sic) going to be struck by lightning, as I said before, it will find you whether at home, or sitting in the grandstands or on the field, at a football game.”

I didn’t realize lightning had a GPS tracking device.

“I would rather be out camping or hiking in the middle of a “Mother Nature’s Fireworks Show” than sitting in a recliner getting fat in front of a TV.” …

You are welcome to your opinion, but that should not dictate whether anyone else is placed in a dangerous position. Hiking and camping in the middle of a storm are personal decisions – you can assume the risk- and face the consequences, as I assume from your post that you are an adult. Many of the participants and/or spectators are not of an age to make that decision for themselves.

“I vividly recall sitting thru a game in South GA in the late 60’s in a driving rainstorm”.

But are we really supposed to take advice from someone who is not smart enough to come in out of the rain?

Suwanee 0wnz

August 29th, 2010
9:44 pm

This is a tough issue that I examined very hard when running a League for another sport.

There are 2 kinds of errors that can be made.

1) Stop the athletic event, and no lightning strikes the field, and

2) Continue the event, and somebody gets struck by lightning.

The problem is that the cost of the second error is just so high.

Nobody would ever wants to be responsible for making a decision that results in a kid or spectator get fried by lightning. While we have all heard anecdotes about people struck by lightning who are perfectly fine, it is much more ocmmon that a lightning strike results in death or permanent damage. Even someone who appears fine can have unusual damage to their brain, nervous system, or heart.

Not only do you have the personal tragedy that comes from a lightning strike, but there can also be a huge legal liability that is simply more than most school districts or municipalities can bear.

Lightning itself is very unpredictable. Repeated “heat lightning” between the clouds is no guarantee that a ground strike will not occur. And sometimes, ground strikes can travel horizontally for as much as 50 miles before striking the ground – even when there are no clouds directly overhead.

This is an area where we simply cannot afford to have ANY errors that result in a lightning strike to an athlete or a fan. These are still kids, and they count on the adults to make responsible decisions about their safety. It is NEVER alright to cut this decision too close and put kids at risk, regardless of our rabid enthusiasm for the game.

It would be great if suspended games could be resumed later. But there are a ton of things that need to be rescheduled for that to occur: fields, officials, school administrators, concessions workers, teams, bands, cheerleaders, buses, police, ambulances, and food (do you really want to eat hamburger that was left out in the Georgia heat for a day?). A decision to resume a suspended contest should involve more than just 2 coaches interested in the results.

Ted Striker

August 29th, 2010
11:40 pm

While the current rule is designed to protect loss of life or limb, it’s flawed. Here’s why. While players/coaches are huddled in the locker rooms, spectators have no cover and are left open and exposed in the bleachers — often metal — and are at the mercy of the elements.

If the GHSA association really was 100% serious about mitigating risk, they’d have the stadium evacuated and fans/spectators moved inside to other school facilities or their vehicles till play resumed…or the game was called.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, however I’ll say this. No team should lose if the game isn’t completed. In the spirit of compromise I say award a W to the team leading at the half, award nothing to the team behind. And if the game is called before the half, replay it.

Michael Carvell

August 30th, 2010
12:01 am

@Ted Striker, I agree w/you 100-percent


August 30th, 2010
8:16 am

Just clear up the vagueness of the rule and stick with it. That seems to be all the coach is asking.


August 30th, 2010
8:30 am

They should start one clock ..After one hour( the max) or less ( no more lightning), the referees would determine if play continues or if the game is called. If an minimum of two quarters are complete and one team is ahead they win. If both teams are tied after two or more its a tie. If less than two quarters it must be replayed or forfeited by the team that will not comply.

As for fans….its your decision to stay and risk injury or leave and catch another great high school game.


August 30th, 2010
12:47 pm


I was at the game Friday night. The lightning actually began with about 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. They finished the 1st half with Jackson County scoring with 10 seconds left before half to take the lead. During halftime a big storm came and the game was halted, and it needed to be. However, after 45 minutes, the storm had moved out and the rain had ceased. The only thing that was remaining was heat lightning in the distance. There was a distint difference in lightning from the stuff that was in the storm, and then the heat lightning in the distance well after the storm. It was a very tight game, and as a fan, I wanted to watch the rest of it.

The two problems that I have with the situation is there was another high school game in Jackson County, 5 miles away, and they delayed, then played the rest of the game. Also, the lightning began in the 1st half, but the officials did not think it was dangerous then. There was no consistency from game to game (the Jackson Co. game and then the Jefferson game), and there was no consistency with the officials regarding the lightning.

Ultimately the kids safety is #1, so I understand the rule, and there was definitely a need for a 45-60 minute delay. After that, however, the game should have continued.

For those of you calling out the coach for wanting to win, you have to understand that they have prepared all offseason for this first game, and then to end that way had to be quite frustrating, especially with the lightning being heat lightning for the last hour.


August 30th, 2010
12:56 pm

I”ll say it again…If this were two powerhouse schools playing eachother…these comments we”re making would not even be an issue! I can GUARANTEE you this would have been TOTALLY different!


August 30th, 2010
1:23 pm

I was at the Redan vs Lithonia game and there was a lightning delay for about 45 minutes after that the weather was perfect (nice cool breeze). Redan ended up winning what turned out to be a very exciting ballgame 12-6 in overtime. The only dissapointment was that Redan’s band and cheerleaders left during the delay but Lithonia’s band stayed and entertained their fans of us Redan fans. Great job Lithonia!!!!!!


August 30th, 2010
1:27 pm

The lightning you saw was the Wolves of Buford totally dominating & PUNKING Gainesville…

We Run This State just might apply to a AA school in North Gwinnett!!

Howling all the way to Columbus!!

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!

August 30th, 2010
1:32 pm

K-MAN is right. That is one reason the rule and guidelines needs to be changed or modified. It seems to be very vague and depends on who is involved, teams and referees. In my previous posts I may have given the wrong impression. I still think it is “wimpified and wussified” but if there is a SEVERE thunderstorm approaching the game does need to be stopped, but only temporarily. Just don’t let the “AlGore types” take this and screw it up for everyone with their over-reactionary and extreme measures. This needs to be handled like major league baseball does it. If the odds of being struck by lightning in the US are 1 in 600,000, and 70% of injuries and deaths occur in the afternoon(before 7PM) that means the odds of being struck at night are about 1 in 1,800,000. That includes everywhere, not just at football games. Next thing we know stadiums close to airports or near Air Force bases will have to be re-located because of the danger from airplanes. This is just how silly this is. It would be interesting to know how many people have ever been struck by lightning at night at a football game. Would bet it’s close to zero! Here’s another relevant fact that puts this in perspective. For the period 1990-2003(14yrs) there were 23 lightning deaths in GA, most of those in the daytime. There have been only 21 deaths in 16 states so far this year-3 in Ga-NONE AT SPORTS EVENTS. In the latest stats I could find, there were 13 deaths for high school football players in 2007, and 7 in 2008. These were from violent collisions during the game, and there are others not counted from heat-related problems. That’s almost as many as lightning causes. Anyone calling for high school football to be stopped? Of course not, but it does seem rather hypocritical doesn’t it?


August 30th, 2010
1:46 pm


Actually the BIGGEST game in Ga this weekend will be Nationally ranked #13 Crenshaw, LA at #36 Bulldawgs of North Gwinnett!!

Go Dawgs!!

football fan

August 30th, 2010
2:01 pm

TTTT = idiot

Al Gore

August 30th, 2010
2:10 pm

Ya’ll better come on in out of the lightning!