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Lightning forces another college football evacuation

Sep 4, 2011, 11:29 p.m.

By Karin Matz

CHICAGO (Reuters) - More than 50,000 fans were forced to clear West Virginia University's football stadium on Sunday as severe weather rolled through, the third evacuation this weekend of a college football game because of lightning.

The game in Morgantown, West Virginia, was finally called in the fourth quarter after nearly seven hours of on-again, off-again play, with West Virginia leading in-state rival Marshall 34 to 13.

"Based on the pending weather forecast, as well as the physical and mental fatigue of the student-athletes, it has been decided that the football game between Marshall University and West Virginia University has been stopped in the fourth quarter, resulting in a final score of 34-13," the athletic directors of the two schools said in a statement.

Lightning was seen close by the stadium in the afternoon and the field and stands at Milan Puskar Stadium were cleared with just about five minutes left in the third quarter.

West Virginia was leading Marshall 27 to 13 at the time. The game was halted again early in the fourth quarter.

It was the first lightning delay of a West Virginia home game since 1991, the school said.

On Saturday, lightning strikes forced the University of Michigan and University of Notre Dame to clear their football stadium seats.

Michigan cleared its massive 110,000-seat stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the third quarter with the team leading Western Michigan 34-10. The teams later agreed to end the game there.

The Notre Dame-South Florida football game was suspended twice. South Florida eventually won 23 to 20.

(Additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune)

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