Cary-Grove senior Matt Sutherland gave his already charged-up home fans a huge jolt of excitement when he raced 58 untouched yards to the end zone on the third play of Friday night's nonconference football game with Wheaton North.
Sutherland would find the end zone again before the end of the first quarter at Al Bohrer Field but Wheaton North responded with a touchdown run by Steele Graham on the first play of the second quarter.
But after three more plays, the start of an electric light show in the skies stopped play and the stadium was cleared. After waiting for nearly an hour, with lightning still visible in the area, the game was suspended and will tentatively resume at 6 p.m. Saturday with C-G leading 14-7 with 10:23 to play in the first half.
"It's a weird feeling," Sutherland said after totaling 69 of C-G's 158 rushing yards before the suspension. "We have to go home and get a good night's rest, get some food, rehydrate, refocus and pick up where we left off."
C-G will have plenty of time to decide whether to go for it or punt as it faced fourth and inches at its 44 when lightning was spotted.
Wheaton North had just cut its deficit in half as Graham's 3-yard touchdown run capped a 7-play, 84-yard drive that included a 31-yard run by Cullen Heimburger and a 29-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony (4-for-6, 68 yards) to tight end Jake Heggeland.
"I guess that's what happens with Cary-Grove," Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said of his team's 42-18 win last year that was postponed a day because of bad weather. "That's all right because we feel like there some things we can talk about tonight as a staff and hopefully clean up for tomorrow. But obviously they have the same opportunity as well."
One that Sutherland, who also plays in the Trojans' secondary, planned to use.
"Me and the defensive backs are going to watch film tonight and try to clean things up," said Sutherland, who is one of 16 returning starters. "We're used to battling through this type of adversity and (our experience) is going to help us tomorrow."
Sutherland took a perfectly executed option pitch from Jason Gregoire and used the tight-side blocking of Trevor Ruhland, Michael Gomez and Erik Norberg and the lead block of Zach McQuade for his first touchdown.
"I felt like I was running through a huge alley," Sutherland said.
Sutherland's 4-yard touchdown run capped a 67-yard drive. Sophomore Tyler Pennington also ran for 42 yards on 9 carries.
"We told them before they came out tonight that there would be some adversity, whether it was a turnover of something not going their way," said C-G coach Brad Seaburg. "This is one of those things you can't control and that's something they understand. The only thing they can control is how they prepare tomorrow."