DALLAS — No. 23 Boise State’s first appearance at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium turned into what is believed to be the first bowl game called off because of weather.
The SERVPRO First Responder Bowl between the Broncos and Boston College was canceled because of the threat of severe weather after a delay of nearly 1 1/2 hours Wednesday.
“After more than an hour since stoppage of play, and with review of the active lightning and thunderstorm cells still in the area of the Cotton Bowl, it was determined that the game should be called,” Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of ESPN Events and programming, said in a statement. “All parties were concerned about player safety first and foremost, and with that being the primary concern, as well as the fans in attendance, it was a unanimous decision to cancel the game.”
The game was stopped with BC leading 7-0 with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter. The delay came not long after AJ Dillon ran 19 yards for a touchdown.
“In my career, this is a first,” said BC coach Steve Addazio, finishing his sixth year in charge of the Eagles and 33rd year in the profession. “I don’t second-guess anything about it. The decision was made for the right reasons, and that’s the welfare of both teams’ players.”
NCAA spokesman J.D. Hamilton said via email that it was believed to be the first bowl canceled by weather. Hawaii’s planned second postseason game of 1941, against San Jose State, was canceled because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond wrote in a tweet that the fans who purchased tickets through the school will get a full refund and can pick any home athletic event between now and next December and get free tickets for the number of bowl tickets purchased.
Before the announcement, fans had begun returning to their seats after severe storms rolled through the area near downtown Dallas. Lightning strikes near the stadium continued intermittently for three hours after the initial delay, and more storms were expected.
Associate bowl director Brett Ringler said officials met Tuesday to discuss the weather report and how they would handle the decision-making process.
“We followed all those protocols today, and we finally had to come to a decision to cancel the game based on weather that was forthcoming as well,” Ringler said.
The Broncos (10-3) were playing at the 86-year-old stadium for the first time, in their second meeting with BC. Their previous matchup was the Eagles’ 27-21 victory with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Boise’s blue turf in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl.
Boise, which won 34-14 at Wyoming in September in hazy conditions because of a wildfire, was trying for its second straight 11-win season after losing to Fresno State 19-16 in overtime in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
“Help me out guys, this is a new one,” Boise coach Bryan Harsin said. “We prepared for this in fall camp where we ran into the locker room.”
The Eagles (7-5) were going for their first eight-win season under Addazio in their first appearance at the Fair Park venue since Doug Flutie led a 45-28 victory over Houston in the 1985 Cotton Bowl. That bowl game has since moved to the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.
“We are all deeply disappointed,” Addazio said. “A lot went into this, a lot of work and a lot of preparation. Tough decisions have to be made. And they have to be made in the big picture of things.”
This was Boise’s second bowl trip to Texas since joining FBS in 1996. The Broncos beat TCU 34-31 on the Horned Frogs’ home field at the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl in 2003.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.