IOWA CITY — Lightning from passing thunderstorms led to multiple delays in Saturday night’s Iowa football game against Nevada and prompted the evacuation of seating areas at Kinnick Stadium.
Play was halted a first time with 10 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the third quarter when a lightning strike was reported within eight miles of the stadium.
The game was delayed for 1 hour, 20 minutes before play resumed at 9:56 p.m., but the return of heavy rain accompanied by additional lightning pulled the teams off the field again at 10:05 p.m. with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
Play resumed at 11:55 p.m. but after Nevada quarterback Shane Illingworth threw an incomplete pass on a third-and-22 play, a bolt of lightning overhead prompted a third delay that started at 11:57 p.m.
With each of the three delays as the Hawkeyes and Wolf Pack headed to the locker room with Iowa leading 17-0, fans who were initially part of a sell-out crowd of 69,250 were asked to seek shelter as part of a mandatory evacuation of outdoor seating areas at the facility.
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Fans were instructed to go to one of four nearby indoor structures to wait out the storm after play was halted at 8:36 p.m. and the facility was cleared in around 15 minutes.
By the time the third delay began, fewer than 1,000 fans were in the stands.
University officials opened the UI Indoor Track, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Iowa Field House and the Dental Sciences Building for fans seeking shelter.
By NCAA rule, play must be halted for 30 minutes and teams pulled from the playing field whenever lightning strikes within eight miles of a facility where a game is taking place. Play does not resume until the area has been lightning-free for 30 minutes.
Saturday’s delay was the just second ever at Kinnick Stadium and the first at a Hawkeye home game since play was halted for 1 hour, 24 minutes during the Hawkeyes’ 34-7 season-opening win over Tennessee Tech in 2011.
As was the case Saturday, the delay that day began in the third quarter. Unlike Saturday, the delay that took place in the Sept. 3, 2011, game occurred in a game which kicked off at 11 a.m.
There have been two other delays in Iowa games during coach Kirk Ferentz’s 24-year tenure, one at Arizona State on Sept. 18, 2004 and the other in a game at Iowa State on Sept. 14, 2019.
At Arizona State, the start of the game was delayed and play was halted once after kickoff in the Hawkeyes’ 44-7 loss to the Sun Devils.
In the 2019 game at Iowa State, play was halted twice and the game was delayed for 2 hours, 55 minutes before Iowa earned an 18-17 victory.
The long ball: Tory Taylor’s first punt of Saturday’s game was the noteworthy.
The Hawkeye junior’s 62-yard punt in the first quarter was the second-longest of Taylor’s college career, topped only by a 69-yard punt in a game at Iowa State last season.
The punt is the 25th longest in Iowa history and is the sixth punt Taylor has recorded of 60 yards or more.
Fast start: By modest recent standards, Iowa started quickly Saturday.
Two touchdowns in the first quarter led Iowa to a 14-0 lead over Nevada, the most productive opening quarter for the Hawkeyes since the 2021 season opener against Indiana.
In that game, Tyler Goodson scored on a 50-yard run and Riley Moss returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to lead the Hawkeyes to a 14-0 advantage.
The touchdowns scored Saturday by Kaleb Johnson on a 40-yard run and Arland Bruce on a 21-yard pass in the first quarter marked the first time Iowa had scored a pair of offensive touchdowns in a quarter since a 31-point second quarter in last season’s 51-14 win at Maryland.
Fresh leg: True freshman Drew Stevens handled kickoff responsibilities during the first two games of the season for Iowa but added placekicking duties to his workload Saturday.
Taking over for sophomore Aaron Blom, the walk-on from North Augusta, S.C., had hit two PAT kicks before he converted on the first field goal attempt of his collegiate career when he hit from 43 yards to give Iowa a 17-0 lead with 9 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first half.
Iowa also made a change in its kick return unit, dropping freshman Kaleb Johnson deep. Johnson responded with a 19-yard return to open the game.
Arland Bruce continued to return punts, running one back a career-best 25 yards midway through the second quarter.
In and out: While Iowa regained the services of healthy receivers Keagan Johnson and Nico Ragaini on Saturday, running back Leshon Williams did not play after starting the first two games of the season.
Johnson, playing for the first time since the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4 last season, recorded his first reception of the season when he caught a seven-yard pass midway through the first quarter.
Williams’ absence came as running back Gavin Williams saw his most extensive action of the season after missing the opener with an injury.
Gavin Williams made his first start of the season and the second of his career in the Iowa backfield, gaining 52 yards on 12 carries by halftime.
Under the lights: Saturday’s game was the 21st true night game played by Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawkeyes won the first 13 of the first 20 games under the lights on their home field.
"It’s always special to play at Kinnick, but for night games it’s even more special," Iowa cornerback Riley Moss said. "The crowd is always energized and the atmosphere is always great for those games."
The game against Nevada was the first home night game played by the Hawkeyes since losing a 17-12 game against ninth-ranked Penn State on Oct. 12, 2019.
Settling in: Nevada made an early trek to Iowa and hit the practice field shortly after arriving.
The Wolf Pack practiced Friday on the turf at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids, not far from their team hotel, before making the journey to Iowa City on game day.
Jackson is captain: Former Iowa assistant coach Carl Jackson was the Hawkeyes’ honorary captain Saturday.
Jackson’s coaching career spans four decades including 22 years at Iowa on staffs led by Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz.
He is the only coach in Hawkeye history to have worked with five conference championship teams before his retirement following the 2007 season. Jackson coached nine of the 11 Iowa running backs who ran for 1,000 or more yards in a season.
Q-C kid captain: Eve Jimenez, an 8-year old from Davenport, was the Kid Captain for Saturday’s Iowa-Nevada game.
Jimenez has twice survived a rare autoimmune disorder, once at the age of four and again four years later.
She was treated at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a disorder where the immune system attacks the brain.
As part of a new tradition which allows the Kid Captain to select the song that accompanies the Hawkeye Wave, Jimenez chose "Believer" by Imagine Dragons to be played as fans waved to current patients at the children’s hospital located across the street from Kinnick Stadium.