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Dave Crenshaw, Associated Press
Tulsa alumnus G.E. Beard sits alone in the rain in the stands of H.A. Chapman Stadium as heavy rain and lightning delayed the start of an NCAA college football game between Tulsa and Oklahoma State in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011.

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma State and Tulsa were less than 10 minutes away from canceling their rain-delayed football game that ended up starting after midnight and finishing after 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham and Oklahoma State counterpart Mike Holder had agreed to call off the game if lightning struck near H.A. Chapman after 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. The last strike recorded was at 11:23, and players were able to get back on the field just before midnight to warm up for the game.

An NCAA bylaw prohibits athletic activities from starting between midnight and 5 a.m., but Cunningham says it's his understanding that's intended to prevent coaches from punishing players with an early-morning practice after a game — and not to stop games from starting after a weather delay.