Long before weather delayed their game, the Rancho Mirage Rattlers were providing a little lightning of their own Friday night.
The Rattlers scored three touchdowns in the first 3:29 seconds of the game, then waited out a long lightning and rain delay on the way to a 55-8 home win over the Desert Mirage Rams in a De Anza League varsity football game.
About the only thing that slowed Rancho Mirage down in the first half was an hour and 50 minute lightning delay that started with 3:40 left in the first quarter. Under the CIF rules, each new lightning bolt during the delay restarted the 30-minute delay, so the game that was stopped at 7:33 p.m. didn’t resume until 9:23 p.m.
Very little changed after the game started again as the Rattlers moved to 3-1 in the DAL and 6-2 overall. Desert Mirage dropped to 0-4 in the Dal and 3-5 for the season.
Before the delay, Rancho Mirage took advantage of some early breaks to build up the big lead. Desert Mirage took the opening kickoff but fumbled on the first play of the game, with Rancho Mirage recovering on the Rams 20. Two plays later, Rancho Mirage quarterback Marques Prior hit Charles Murell for a 20-yard scoring pass.
Desert Mirage then fumbled on the third play of its second drive, with Rancho Mirage recovering on the 28. This time it took the Rattlers three plays to score on a 16-yard pass from Prior to Steven Knight.
After Desert Mirage failed to make a first down on its next drive, Rancho Mirage’s Kyle Whitefield fielded a punt and raced 45 yards for the Rattlers’ third touchdown in the opening minutes.
Moments later, with lightning bolts visible to the south of the stadium, the game was suspended. Most of the crowd left during the lightning and light but steady rain, but the athletic directors and coaches for both schools decided to wait out the weather.
When the game did begin again, Desert Mirage completed a drive that it had started about two hours early with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Alejandro Ortiz to Melvin Harmon. But that would be the highlight of the night for the Rams, who turned the ball over five times.
Prior continued his big night with a 31-yard scoring pass to Daryn Evans on the first play of the second quarter. Prior finished the half with three touchdown passes on 11 of 18 passing for 150 yards. He also added a 50-yard scramble for a touchdown.
The Rattlers’ other score in the first half came on a 37-yard run on a fumble return by Knight.
Prior hit the bench in the second half in favor of freshman David Talley, who ran for 88 yards and scored a touchdown late in the game on an 8-yard run. The only other Rattlers scoring in the half came on field goals of 51 and 25 yards by Daniel Whelan.
The Rattlers did have their issues on the night, with head coach L.D Matthews mentioning several dropped passes and a few missed connections by Prior in the first half. Rancho Mirage was also flagged for 116 yards in penalties.
The Rattlers will face Yucca Valley next Friday in the Rancho Mirage final home game of the season.