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Westminster Blanks Thiel in First-ever Night Game at Burry Stadium

Written by: on Sunday, October 24th, 2010

By BILL ALBRIGHT
Western PAFootball Writer

NEW WILMINGTON — Saturday night at Harold Burry Stadium, the Westminster Titans tossed a 35-0 shutout at the Thiel Tomcats in a PAC football game between the two neighboring rivals.

For Thiel, it was the seventh loss of the season without a win for the young and banged-up Tomcats, while for the Titans, it was their second win against five losses in a frustrating season.

However, all things considered, the final score in a game played before a capacity crowd might have had to take second place among one milestone in the long and rich tradition of Titan football. It was the first-ever night game played at Burry Stadium.

Long-time Westminster coach/athletic director Jim Dafler had a big smile on his face while watching the events taking place.

“We have played night games on the road, but there has never been a night football game here that we were aware of,” said Dafler. “If there was one, it must have been by using car lights or something like that. The historical significance of this with the rich tradition we have if football, what is happening here tonight is by no means a small thing.”

Not only was it a big event for those currently involved with Titan football, but also for the alums who came back for the historic event.

“Another thing that has been kind of heartwarming for me is that I have seen a lot of alums who were football players here tonight,” said Dafler. “It is not homecoming, but they see what this means to the program and to the college and they want to be a part of it as well. That has been a big part of his special night for me as well.”

In the midst of a frustrating season, Westminster head coach Jeff Hand was very happy with the play of his team as well as with the result.

“I am certainly proud of the guys tonight,” said Westminster head coach Jeff Hand. “They lived up to a high standard of excellence and just did a phenomenal job out on the field, no matter what the situation might have been.”

Winning the game is one thing, but when you can toss a shutout, it just makes the victory a little sweeter. For the Titans, it was their first shutout win since the 2003 season.

“It (the shutout) was a special thing for us,” said Hand. “They (the defense) had been talking about it and it is one of those things as a coach, when they starting talking about things, you get a little nervous. But tonight, they came out and played with an attitude.”

As for victory in the first-ever night game on their field, that is one thing that nobody can take from the Titan players. As they say, the excitement of the game was on the field, but the memories will last forever.

“This is real nice for us, especially with our rich history and tradition of football here for a period of 119 years,” said Hand. “That is what makes this a special, special memory.”

With the refurbished Burry Stadium facilities, Westminster now owns one of the nicest stadiums in Division III football.

“This is something we have been working on for a number of years,” said Dafler. “There were some people who weren’t overly excited about it because of the history we had on our previous field, but I think the versatility the turf and lights give us is very nice. We still have some work to do with updating our bleachers, but seeing the excitement here tonight makes this a neat situation.”

Not only do the improvements mean much better facilities for the Westminster athletic teams to play on, but it also might open the door for possible high school playoff games when that time rolls around.

“That is one of the things we have talked about,” Dafler said. “We have hosted high school basketball games for years, but there are a few things we might have to address before that becomes a reality for football. One thing is that we need to update our bleachers because we don’t have good handicap access and some other things like that. Obviously the other thing we run into on our campus is that of parking. If we were hosting while the students weren’t around, it wouldn’t be that much of an issue. If the opportunity (for hosting playoffs) presents itself, I feel confident that we would welcome it.”

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