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Friday night football started in Oro Valley (Ariz.) the way all openers begin. With optimism and anticipation and hope.

File photo by Todd Shurtleff

Matt Johnson, Ironwood Ridge.

But by the time Ironwood Ridge (Tucson) finished off Liberty (Peoria) 42-40, opening night Friday was was long gone.

It was Saturday morning.

Partially due to all the points and all the yards, but more to do with scattered lightning, the football shootout finished at 12:24 a.m. according to Arizona Republic scribe Richard Obert.

Defending Division II champion Ironwood Ridge fought back from a 17-7 deficit seemed to take control with four third-quarter touchdowns only to hold on. Sophomore running back Cole McLafferty rushed for three touchdowns for Ironwood Ridge and teammate Jake Vartanian added touchdown runs of 76, 2 and 6 yards.

It was a great win for Ironwood coach Matt Johnson, who lost 21 of 22 starting positions from last year's title team due to graduation.

Liberty junior quarterback Tyler Wyatt ran for touchdowns of 75 and 72 yards, threw for two scores and kicked two field goals, according to Obert.

The game was delayed 90 minutes to start and another hour after halftime due to lightning strikes.

Who says lightning can't strike twice?
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