The rain waited until the game was over. However, Normal Community High School's football team couldn't overcome a flood of mistakes before that.
Belleville East intercepted three passes and turned away the Ironmen from inside the 1-yard line as the Lancers took a 28-21 nonconference victory in the season opener.
"We try to pride ourselves on doing the little things to win games and we didn't do that," sNCHS coach Wes Temples said. "You can point fingers all over place. The challenge is to come back and learn from it."
Belleville East quarterback Drew Millas completed 16 of 27 attempts for 217 yards and three touchdowns to help his coach gain a special victory.
Lancers' coach Tim Funk is a 1987 NCHS graduate who grew up in nearby Hudson.
"It's a little bit different," Funk said. "My old alma mater is Kingsley (Junior High) now. It's a different deal, but it's still Normal Community. I'm still a Normal fan whether it's Normal (Community) or Normal West. As long as they beat the (Bloomington) Raiders, that's all I care about."
NCHS quarterback Josh Kirshenbaum, who broke his ankle in last year's opener, threw for two TDs and also scored on a 1-yard run to put the Ironmen ahead, 7-0.
That was the Ironmen's only lead. The Lancers went ahead, 14-7, on MIllas scoring passes of 51 yards to Os Moore and seven yards to Brady Schanuel.
Kirshenbaum fumbled the snap before connecting on a 65-yard TD strike to gain a 14-all tie before Tony Dean caught a deflected pass for a 19-yard TD with 1:49 left until halftime to put the Lancers in front, 21-14.
Cody Patterson's 19-yard run put the Lancers ahead, 28-14. NCHS appeared ready to close the gap when a 33-yard Kirshenbaum pass to Boyd got the Ironmen inside the Lancers' 1 late in the third quarter. But the next snap went over Kirshenbaum's head for a 12-yard loss and the Ironmen couldn't get in the end zone.
Kirshenbaum's 9-yard TD pass to Christian Wey with 6:58 left got NCHS within 28-21. But the Lancers held the ball until the final 12 seconds.
"Our offense couldn't get in a flow and our defense played a lot of downs and could not get off the field," Temples said. "We had way too many mistakes."
NCHS stopped DeMarius Ward in the first half, holding the senior tailback to 18 yards. But Ward gained 78 yards in the second half to finish with 96 yards.
Meanwhile, the Lancers held NCHS' 1,000-yard rusher from last year, Alec Bozarth, to 27 yards on 11 carries.
"We hung together as a team," Funk said. "Our kids and coaching staff made some good adjustments because they took some of the stuff away and we kept fighting and scratching."