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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Weather forces halt to Gators opener

Florida’s game with Idaho was delayed twice by weather and finally called off when game officials, the SEC and athletic directors decided the playing conditions were not acceptable.

The game’s start was delayed by 2 hours, 48 minutes because of lightning. The SEC does not allow play when there are lightning strikes within 8 miles of the stadium.

When the game finally did start at 9:50 p.m., the Gators’ Valdez Showers returned a kick 64 yards to the Vandals’ 14 on the only play of the game. The play, however, will not count because the two schools agreed the game would restart if the two teams do eventually play.

The game was stopped after the return and the game was finally called at 10:38 p.m. after the second delay because the field was ruled unfit to continue.

“It’s unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate for tonight’s season opener,’’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said in a statement released by the school. “After long discussions with the head referee, it was determined that the field conditions were too dangerous for the student-athletes.

“As everyone saw with that opening kickoff, I thought that our guys were ready and fired up to play. We appreciate the fans coming out and supporting us and sitting through several weather delays. It was amazing the energy and passion shown in the stands all night. The Gator Nation showed why they’re the best fans in the country, starting with one of the most enthusiastic Gator Walks that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

No official announcement was immediately made on the games’s possible makeup and it was announced that any decision will come at a later date. Officials from both schools, however, were meeting after the contest was called off Saturday night.

The statement released by Florida explaining the reason for calling game:

“Game officials for the Florida-Idaho football game, as well as athletics directors from both schools, in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference, have determined that the game between the Gators and Vandals has been terminated. This is due to weather, unsafe and unplayable field conditions at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night. If the game is rescheduled, then it would be restarted as a new game. That determination will be made and announced at a later time, including ticket information.’’

The last time a Gators game was called off without completion was a 49-3 win against Western Kentucky in 2007. It was called with 8:23 still left to play also because of weather. The two sides elected not to continue.

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