Lightning doesn’t always strike twice.
Arnold Schwarzenegger struck gold with a ‘Terminator’ sequel.
Likewise did Marlon Brando with the second coming of “The Godfather.”
The London football team couldn’t quite capture that same magic after a lightning-delayed contest Friday against visiting Urbana. The Red Raiders saw a two-point halftime lead end up in a heartbreaking 28-26 loss.
The game was the first regular season contest played on the new turf at London’s Bowlus Field at the JJ Hartley Complex.
With London city school superintendent Dr. Lou Kramer serving as the guest play-by-play announcer for the second half following a nearly two hour delay, the Red Raiders received the third quarter kick. The Hillclimbers held fast and London was forced to punt.
Urbana embarked on its second 10-play drive of the game. This one finished the same way as the first — with a Hillclimbers touchdown. Preston Shields took it in on foot from five yards out. Urbana ran a two-point conversion to go up 22-16.
“I thought it was going to be an advantage for us after the long delay,” said London coach Kyle Cutler. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting.”
And fight they did. London’s KJ Price grabbed the ensuing kick off and raced 68 yards to the Urbana 29-yard line.
The Red Raiders drive stalled, leaving kicker Miller Kronk to do the work. He connected on his second field goal of the game to inch the home team closer.
It was then the London defense’s turn to shine.
Led by Caleb Whitacre, Tavian Tyree, and Colten Winters (among others), London bottled up Urbana signal-caller Shields a number of times in the second half. A sack by Whitacre forced Urbana to settle for a field goal, and kept London within striking distance.
Price continued to be the go-to on offense, but the Red Raiders took to the air to reach the end zone. Quarterback JT Martin connected with Bricker Thiel in stride to put London up by one 26-25 with just under three minutes to play.
Facing a tough third down with just over a minute to play, the Hillclimbers put themselves in a position to score.
A valiant goal line stand by the Red Raiders forced Urbana to settle for yet another field goal with just 36 seconds remaining to go ahead for good.
A last-chance effort by London came up short.
“We had them back on their heels,” Cutler said. “They just made one more big play than we did.”
Jeff Gates is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.
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