SKOWHEGAN — Mother Nature tried to derail the Skowhegan Area High School football team. The Indians didn’t let it.

Skowhegan withstood a 57-minute lightning delay, then responded with a strong third quarter that lifted it to a 20-14 victory over Cony in a Class B matchup at Reginald Clark Memorial Field.

Jon Bell returned a kickoff for a touchdown, Hunter Washburn ran for another and Marcus Christopher threw a touchdown pass to Sean Savage in the win, which came after a 55-12 loss to Marshwood last week. Anthony Sousa ran for a pair of touchdowns for Cony.

The final score wasn’t the only story. Skowhegan was driving, with halftime looming less than a minute away, looking for points before the break to pad its 14-12 lead.

And then nature stepped in.

The Indians had crossed into Rams territory and stood at the Cony 45-yard line with 52.1 seconds left when a flash of lightning lit up the sky over Skowhegan’s Reginald Clark Memorial Field. The flash appeared at 7:53 p.m., and within seconds the teams were off the field, the fans had ditched the metal bleachers and the Indians’ rain-soaked home field had become a ghost town.

At least four further lightning flashes kept bumping up the resume time, and the teams finally returned to play at 8:50 p.m. But the outcome of the game, which saw Skowhegan leading 20-12 at the start of the fourth quarter at press time, already had a competitor for the night’s lasting impression.

“Of course, when you see lightning like that, it’s always something to be concerned about,” said Andre Pied, 74, of Skowhegan, one of the first fans to make the trip back from the parking lots. “I don’t think it’s a real problem at this point, but who knows. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Ironically, the game began with rays of sunshine poking through the clouds, and as it did in its opener against Falmouth, Cony started hot, taking its first drive deep into Skowhegan territory. The march ended in disappointment at the Indians 13-yard line with Skowhegan’s Cam Barnes intercepting an overthrown slant pass, but after a 3-and-out and poor punt gave the ball back to the Rams at the Skowhegan 11, quarterback Anthony Sousa plunged into the end zone from 2 yards out for a 6-0 lead with 4:28 left in the first quarter.

The lead lasted 13 seconds. Skowhegan’s Jon Bell took the kickoff, beat the coverage to the left side and was gone down the left sideline, pulling away for an 85-yard return to tie the game. The Indians held on the next series and drove 72 yards on their next possession, finishing a nine-play march with Hunter Washburn’s 2-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from Marcus Christopher to Sean Savage. Christopher worked the Indians out of a couple of jams to help keep the drive going, completing a 2nd-and-14 pass to Savage for 18 yards, and then finding Savage again for 20 yards on a 2nd-and-15.

Cony saw a pair of trips into Skowhegan territory end in turnovers on downs, the latter occurring when driving rain led to Sousa fumbling a snap on 4th-and-1 from the 33. Cony’s defense forced a stop, however, and gave the ball back to the offense at the Skowhegan 49, and Sousa and Ashton Cunningham runs for 13 and 20 yards, respectively, set up Sousa’s 16-yard surge into the end zone to make it 14-12 with 1:05 to go.

A short kickoff gave Skowhegan an excellent chance for points before the half, but a bright flash and loud peal of thunder derailed those hopes. Robbed of momentum, the Indians’ drive fizzled, but Skowhegan made up for it on its first drive of the second half. A Cony fumble gave Skowhegan the ball at its own 43, and the Indians took 12 plays to take advantage. Skowhegan converted a pair of fourth downs, the first by a Cony pass interference call and the second by a 10-yard pass to Cam Barnes on 4th-and-6, and Christopher found Savage on 3rd-and-goal with a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-12 with 3:34 left in the third.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

dbonifant@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM