In the days leading up to its Dec. 14 NCAA Division II playoff game against West Chester (Pa.), Lenoir-Rhyne offensive coordinator Brent Thompson had players dunk footballs in coolers full of ice cold water during practice to prepare for what was expected to be miserable weather conditions on gameday.
That was an understatement.
For more than three quarters, Lenoir-Rhyne and West Chester faced off at Hickory’s Moretz Stadium in a driving rain with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s. By halftime, the grassy field had all the luxury of a small swamp.
Lenoir-Rhyne’s offense, which relied heavily on the triple option ground game, seemed right at home. In fact, the Bears – playing with former third-string quarterback Josh Justice at the helm – didn’t attempt a single pass while rolling up 451 yards rushing.
West Chester’s high-powered offense was virtually shut down and its efficient passing game negated by the weather conditions.
The rain finally stopped in the fourth quarter, but the temperature remained barely above freezing. The Bears fans who braved the elements were warmed by the scoreboard, however. Lenoir-Rhyne won 42-14 and earned its first trip to the Division II championship game.
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