Argos fall to Delta State in a heartbreaker

By Morgan Givens
Staff writer

Missed opportunities and questionable calls by the referees took a toll on West Florida, as it fell to Delta State in their homecoming game, 28-25.

UWF (4-2, 2-2 GSC) had a strong showing against the Statesmen (6-1, 4-1 GSC).

The Argos were led by junior quarterback Mike Beaudry, who threw for a career-high 354 yards. His favorite target was sophomore receiver Caleb Robinson, who accounted for 129 receiving yards.

The Argos also benefited from sophomore kicker Austin Williams, who contributed 12 of the team’s 25 points on field goals, the longest being from 51 yards.

The Argos set the tone in the first quarter with two touchdowns to take a 13-7 lead, one being a Beaudry pass to freshman wide receiver Ka’Ron Ashley and the other a 31-yard run by senior running back Leroy Wilson. Unfortunately for UWF, those would be the Argo’s only touchdowns in the game.

Delta State stuck to the ground game to reclaim a 14-13 lead with touchdowns by running backs Chris Robinson and Collin Willis.

After taking a 16-14 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Williams, UWF slowly built their lead 25-14 with Williams field goals of 24, 26, and 48 yards.

Delta State showed life early in the fourth quarter, driving 65 yards down the field for a touchdown by Statesmen star running back Chris Robinson.

With 12:58 left in the fourth and the score 25-21 in favor of the Argos, UWF looked to cash in on another Williams field goal, but this attempt was blocked and returned 65 yards for another Delta State touchdown and a 28-25 lead for the Statesmen.

UWF’s defense was able to stop Delta State with 1:34 left in the game and Beuadry and his offense had one last chance to drive up the field and either tie with a field goal or potentially win with a touchdown.

Beaudry, who was out for last week’s game, connected on three passes and, in a matter of seconds, the Argos were in Delta State territory. That momentum instantly faded away, however, when Delta State recovered a botched snap.

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Head coach Pete Shinnick emphasized the missed opportunities, but also highlighted his team’s outstanding performance.

“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” Shinnick said. “For a second-year program to do what we did to a top 20 team, I’m thrilled. I’m proud of how hard they played and how hard they fought, and we said it was going to be a 60-minute game and we needed to give it our hardest. We just got to find a little bit more.”

Shinnick said that his team needs to work on execution. He also weighed in on the officiating, which included a questionable call on a Beaudry pass to junior wide receiver Antoine Griffin in the end zone that was ruled incomplete.

The head coach also gave his thoughts on a UWF punt that bounced out of bounds before the end zone but was ruled a touchback.

“[The referee] said the ball went over the pylon, so I asked him again to make sure that’s what he saw,” Shinnick said.  “It would have put us in really good field position. Give me 22 yards of field position and we’re talking about kicking a field goal.”

UWF’s defense was solid, holding Delta State’s Chris Robinson to only 53 yards. Robinson, a senior, has rushed for more than 100 yards in four games this season. In last year’s contest, he ran for five touchdowns against UWF.

On Saturday, the Argos limited him to two.

“We knew we had to shut him down,” sophomore linebacker Trent Archie said. “We stopped him from running the score up and I feel like this year we did a lot better.”

Being in its second year as a football program, Beaudry and his teammates made it clear that their role in the Gulf South Conference has changed from their inaugural season.

“We don’t want to be treated as that young team anymore,” Beaudry said. “We want to show that we can hang with the best of them and to get that respect we got to win these kinds of games.”

The Argos return to action with back-to-back conference road games. UWF travels to Rome, Georgia for a game against Shorter Saturday, then follows with a visit to No. 18 West Alabama on Oct. 28.

UWF’s next home game will be Nov. 4 against North Alabama. This will be Senior Day and the final home game of the season.

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