Argos stop undefeated Valdosta State to claim first conference title, 61-42


Photo courtesy of Lexi Miller

Tyler Luong, Staff Writer

The No. 3 Argos reign supreme in the Gulf South Conference as they cap off their near-perfect regular season with a well-earned victory over the second-ranked Valdosta State Blazers Saturday night.

In a night filled with history in the making, several firsts and records were broken for UWF. Chief among them was the Argos taking home their first conference title in school history.

Saturday’s game was something of a revenge game for the Blazers, who were previously knocked out by West Florida two years ago in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Championship, with a score of 38-35. Their plans for revenge would be short-lived however, as the Argos controlled the tempo from the jump. 

UWF struck first with a rushing touchdown from Anthony Johnson, Jr. in the closing minutes of the opening quarter, followed shortly by a field goal by Griffin Cerra to put UWF at 10-0 and in good position early in the second.

Moments later, VSU retaliated with a 57-yard touchdown by Lio’undre Gallimore for their first score to cut the deficit to 10-7.

One of the prettiest plays of the game was a beautiful, one-handed 43-yard reception in the second quarter by David Durden off a haymaker from Austin Reed.

Another standout play from Reed was a bold 44-yard rush down the middle for a touchdown. This play set the school record for the most rushing yards resulting in a touchdown by a quarterback, surpassing the previous record of 38.

From then on, the two squads went back-and-forth trading blows. 

Although the deficit by VSU would get as close as three times during the game, the Argos never lost their composure. Every time it looked like the Blazers were in striking position, the Argos would turn on the jets and widen the gap.

It wasn’t until the start of the fourth where the Argos really came alive to blow up the score even more, highlighted by a 66-yard rushing touchdown for Johnson, Jr.

Exhibiting their championship skills, it was a complete showing by the West Florida squad on both sides of the ball. 

Reed finished the game with 311 passing yards and 7-rushing yards for two touchdowns. Johnson, Jr. recorded 96 yards good for three touchdowns. Shomari Mason rushed for 196 yards and one touchdown, while Karon Ashley recorded two touchdowns for 82 yards.

The 347 rushing yards by the Argos set a new single-game record.

Saturday’s matchup was UWF’s annual Salute to Service game, honoring those who serve bravely in our military.

Following the conclusion of the game, UWF ended its regular season record as 9-1 and 6-1 in the Gulf South Conference.

After sleepwalking through most of the regular season, the grind isn’t over yet for the Argos as they begin their postseason next week. 

The Argos return to the field next on Saturday at home against Newberry. The game will kick off at 1 p.m.