BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Lane Kiffin was determined to finish his first game as Florida Atlantic head coach, no matter how long it took.
As it turned out, it took nearly six hours, thanks to three lightning delays.
"I don't know any other way to do it," Kiffin said. "I thought we were still going to win. I thought we'd make the two-point conversion ... go to a three-score game, get an onside kick, still 12, 13, 14 minutes at that time, I would never do anything different."
The first delay started right at the top of the fourth quarter and lasted 59 minutes. The teams played a little over a minute before lightning showed up in the area again. FAU had just scored a touchdown when the game was delayed a second time. After another long wait, the teams jogged onto the field for warm-ups, only to go back into the locker room when more lightning appeared.
"We weren't going anywhere," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo told ESPN in a text message Saturday morning. "We were bunkered in too. This is what our kids are trained to do... we weren't going anywhere - we were going to finish this fight."
The game finally resumed well after 1 a.m. ET.
Kiffin said he and his players would have waited all night to finish, if it had come to that.
"We were bunkered down," Kiffin said. "We were staying for the long haul. That's just how our program is. That's how we want our players to think. And if you love football, why wouldn't you want to keep playing, regardless of how long it was off in between? People bring up 'OK, is there issues about player safety?' You think back to when we did two-a-days forever. That was almost what it was like today, the wait was so long."
The only way the contest could have been called was for both athletic directors to agree. Navy officials said they would have been fine ending the game early because they had the lead, but they had no problem waiting out the delay. There was no contentiousness between officials from the teams as they waited out the weather.
In the end, FAU lost in Kiffin's debut, an effort he called "pretty embarrassing."
"There was so much buildup to the game around here with the fans, around the school, the energy, I really feel like we let them down," Kiffin said. "We have a lot of work to do. It was obvious."