You are the owner of this article.
Storms steal Nebraska's thunder as season-opener against Akron is canceled

Storms steal Nebraska's thunder as season-opener against Akron is canceled


Only Mother Nature could delay Adrian Martinez's first snap as Nebraska's starting quarterback.

The Huskers' season opener against Akron was canceled thanks to severe weather after a nearly three-hour delay.

The potential for a make-up game is not immediately known, though university officials said no definite plans exist and there is not a clear date that works for both teams before December.

The Huskers will play their first full game of the season next Saturday against Colorado.

Neither NU athletic director Bill Moos nor head coach Scott Frost were made available to reporters Saturday evening after the game was called, and the soonest availability with Frost is Monday afternoon.

It was not immediately known if the fact that the game began — Akron kicked off before play was halted because of lightning — and was suspended rather than outright canceled has any impact on whether Akron is compensated for making the trip. The game contract with the Mid-American Conference school called for a $1.17 million payment.

The official suspension announcement came at 9:55 p.m. — 2 hours, 41 minutes after kickoff and 2:40 after the delay began — and NU officials announced at 10:30 p.m. that the game would not be completed.

All through Saturday afternoon, anticipation grew. Temperatures reaching the 90s and high humidity could hardly stifle the buzz about town in the run-up to Scott Frost's debut as the Husker head coach. But the potential for rain and thunderstorms began showing up in forecasts days before kickoff and became increasingly likely to interrupt play as Saturday's forecast came into focus.

The evening of celebration and excitement had just begun when weather scuttled the night.

Lightning arrived at a dramatic moment.

The first bolt visible from West Stadium dropped south of downtown moments after 7 p.m., just as a revamped Tunnel Walk began. The proceedings pressed on, the Huskers won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball, an offensive-minded head coach wanting to put his young signal-caller on the field as soon as possible.

Akron junior Jerry Fitschen sent the kickoff through the north end zone in front of an electric crowd that filled the hallowed stadium.

Martinez and the offense even made it onto the field. But before the referees could signal the Husker freshman that they were ready for play to begin, NU associate athletic director of events Butch Hug ran onto the field from the south end, waving his hands.

Officials briefly conferred and sent both teams to the locker room.

The game clock never moved off 15:00.

It is the first Nebraska game canceled because of weather in program history and the first home game to be impacted by weather in any manner since Sept. 7, 1991, against Utah State.

Thousands of fans stayed, waiting out thunderstorms and periods of rain, but were asked to leave the stands and head for cover at 9:08 p.m. because of a severe thunderstorm warning issued by the National Weather Service that called for potential 70 mph winds, large hail and heavy rain.

The game was postponed 47 minutes later, though fans remaining in the stadium's concourses were advised to continue to shelter in place as severe weather continued to batter the area.

Once the lightning started, the teams' options were limited significantly. Their bye weeks do not line up — Akron's is Sept. 29, NU's is Oct. 27 — and seemingly the only other option would be to play in December, either on conference championship weekend or between that date and the beginning of bowl games.

The Zips stayed in the Omaha area Friday night and had a charter flight home scheduled for sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday out of the Omaha airport.

The Zips experienced a similar situation last fall, when flooding forced a game at Western Michigan to move to Sunday morning. NU's coaching staff also had weather-related problems during their time at Central Florida, including a September 2017 game switched because of Hurricane Irma.

The Knights went three weeks between games, as a Sept. 6 game against Memphis was moved to Sept. 30 and a Sept. 13 game against Georgia Tech was canceled and not made up. They then played and won 11 straight weeks in order to win the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News