Westminster Shuts Out Thiel in First-Ever Home Night Game
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - In the first home night game in the
119-year history of Westminster College football, the Titans
blanked visiting Thiel, 35-0, Saturday night for Westminster's
first shutout since the 2003 season.
Westminster snaps a five-game losing streak, its longest since 1999, to improve to 2-5 on the season and 1-4 in the PAC. Thiel falls to 0-7 overall and 0-5 in the league.
After a scoreless first quarter, Westminster junior quarterback Shawn Lehocky found sophomore receiver Geno Pasquinelli for a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Titans up 7-0 in the second quarter. Three plays earlier, Lehocky threw a short pass to sophomore receiver Connor Kobis that was taken 47 yards for the team's longest pass play of the season to the Thiel 8-yard line.
Lehocky threw for 160 yards on 14-of-23 passing and two touchdowns and an interception. His other touchdown was a 32-yarder to Kobis that put the Titans up 28-0 late in the third quarter.
Pasquinelli led the Titans with seven receptions for 49 yards and a score, while Kobis snared four balls for a career-high 98 yards and a touchdown.
Westminster's ground game was led by sophomore tailback John Proano who carried the ball nine times for 43 yards and a touchdown, while freshman tailback Tyler Banks toted 10 times for 38 yards and a career-high two touchdowns.
Overall, the Titans outgained Thiel, 271-191, in total yards, including a 111-42 rushing advantage.
Banks scored on a 2-yard, second-quarter touchdown run to give the Titans a 14-0 lead at halftime. Westminster then scored on consecutive possessions in the third quarter that included Proano setting up his own 2-yard touchdown run with a career-long and team season-long run of 32 yards to the Thiel 2-yard line. Kobis scored his second career touchdown on the next drive.
Westminster's final touchdown was set up by freshman defensive back Shane Peterson (East Palestine, Ohio/East Palestine), who returned his first career interception 41 yards to the Thiel 11-yard line with 6:28 left in the game. Banks scored on the very next play from 11 yards out to complete the Westminster scoring.
Two quarterbacks accounted for Thiel's 149 passing yards, led by starter Andrew Smith with 77 yards on 8-of-14 passing. Jared Soell completed 7 of 20 for 72 yards and two interceptions.
Eric Petrovich was Thiel's leading rusher with 15 totes for 25 yards.
Thiel entered the game as the nation's lowest scoring team with 4.3 points per game as the Tomcats were shutout for the second time this season.
Several Westminster defenders posted big statistical games.
Senior linebacker Tom Geraghty, who ranks 20th in the nation with a PAC-best 11.3 tackles per game, led the Titans with 10 stops (0.5 for loss). His fellow senior linebackers Cory Meeker and Jake Brown each posted nine tackles with Meeker adding a pass defense.
Sophomore linebacker Aaron Nauer broke up three passes by batting down balls near the line of scrimmage to go with his five tackles.
The Titans also accounted for four sacks, led by junior defensive tackle Ryan Budziszewski and freshman defensive end Sean Christofferson and with 1.5 sacks each for a loss of 12 and 10 yards, respectively.
In addition to Peterson's interception, junior cornerback Jordon Rooney posted his first interception of the season and the second of his career.
Westminster's 35-0 shutout of Thiel is the Titans' first shutout since it blanked Bethany, 33-0, in the fifth game of the 2003 season. This was also the team's most decisive win since it beat Saint Vincent, 48-7, in 2007, and its most decisive shutout win since it beat Gannon, 52-0, in 1999, which was also Westminster's second win of that season after it endured a seven-game losing streak.
Westminster travels to No. 9-ranked Thomas More Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.