Storms delay Stetson University's first football game

Game postponed due to severe lightning in area

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

DELAND, Fla. - It's been over 50 years since Stetson University fielded a football team and the sellout crowd of 6,000 fans had their historic night cut short.

Officials had to postpone the game until Sunday at 3 p.m. because of severe lightning in the area, but some folks told Local 6 they are optimistic about Saturday night's wet situation.

"You can't control mother nature," said Sam Long. "The weather was a little bit of a let down, but at least we can see the finish tomorrow."

Long and his family came all the way from Concord, N.C. to watch their son play his first game as a Hatter.

It's been 57 years since Stetson has had a football team and students who came to the game were a little upset about how their night ended.

"It was kind of ridiculous because nobody wanted to leave and no one thought they were calling the game off, until it actually started pouring in then everyone got out of there," said Stetson student Raychel Seger.

Weather may have ended everyone's night early, but fans did get to see a little over a quarter of football. The newly renovated Spec Martin Memorial Stadium hosted its first sellout crowd, including some of the last people to play football as a Stetson Hatter.

"We never should've quit. You have to have football," said Bill Peck who played on Stetson's 1951 football team.

Wendy Libby, President of Stetson University, said football has helped them reach the highest population of undergrads in school history.

The university isn't the only business reaping the benefits of having football in town. DeLand's city manager, Michael Pleaus, knows what kind of economic impact this program can have on a city.

"Looking at all of the businesses, the hotels are full, downtown is full, the crowd is fired up, Stetson really did a great job with their management and putting together an event tonight that people will really enjoy," Pleaus said.

Stetson travels to Melbourne next week to take on Florida Tech in Panthers' first football game ever.

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