WHITWELL — After waiting out a one-hour lightning delay, Whitwell gashed Mt. Juliet Christian's defense with its running game in a 31-21 season-opening decision Friday night.
Mt. Juliet Christian countered with the passing of quarterback Rik Vanmali, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
His first touchdown, a 10-yarder to Elliott Lee, brought the Saints within 8-6 in the first quarter, a score which held through halftime.
Lee went out with total body cramps in the third quarter and was taken from the field by ambulance.
Whitwell opened a 31-6 lead in the fourth quarter before Noah Wilson took a Vanmali screen 52 yards to the end zone. Vanmali found Zack Jones with a 12-yard fade for the final score.
The delay, before the opening kickoff, came after the Saints made a 2 1/2-hour bus trip.
"That was tough, but that was no excuse," said Mt. Juliet Christian coach Jake Roberts, whose Saints ran just 18 offensive plays in the first half.
Mt. Juliet Christian will take next week off before playing host to Middle Tennessee Christian at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the Saints' home opener at Suey Field.