by Christian Skewes

Saturday, September 28 the West Florida football team defeated the Mississippi College Choctaws at Blue Wahoo’s Stadium in the program’s first overtime win. This victory also improves the Argos to a 2-0 start in Gulf South Conference play.

Coming off of their 69-0 victory over Virginia-Lynchburg last week, UWF (3-1 GSC 2-0) was looking to win big at home again.

Mississippi College (2-2 GSC 1-1) won their match up last week against North Greenville University in a 39-27 home game. Now on the road once again, they came off the bus from Mississippi looking to pull off an upset.

West Florida received the opening kickoff of the game and managed to drive the ball down the field. Solid running by Anthony Johnson and Jaden Gardner pushed UWF into the red zone early in the first quarter.

After an illegal block in the back penalty called on UWF, the Argos faced a third down and thirteen on the Choctaws 29 yard line. Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Reed would complete a one-handed catch to wide receiver Kevin Grant to bring the Argo offense down to the 10 yard line.

Johnson would later fumble a pass reception on the five yard line and turn the ball over to the Choctaws.

On the first play from scrimmage for Mississippi College, redshirt senior linebacker Trent Archie sacked Choctaw quarterback Detric Hawthorn and forced a fumble. Nonetheless, the Choctaws would recover the fumble.

The Argo defense managed to stop Mississippi College’s first offensive drive and forced them to punt after three plays. UWF would stall out on their second possession and punt the ball back to the Choctaws.

After a scoreless first quarter, that all changed at the beginning of the second.

Back on offense, Mississippi College would catch UWF off guard and find success in the run game while mixing in play action passes too. On fourth down with a yard to go, Choctaw running back Jordan Wright would score a 22 yard touchdown rush to give his team the lead. Making the score 7-0 early in the second.

Reed would throw a pick six to Mississippi College’s Derric Hawthorn on the Argo’s next possession. Improving the Choctaw lead to 14-0 with 11:32 left in the second quarter.

Later, West Florida would miss a field goal attempt on the Mississippi College 20 yard line and turn the ball over. Another dominant performance put up by the Argo defense would force the Choctaws to punt after three plays.

With 4:09 left on the clock before halftime, UWF would find success in the passing game and manage to move the ball down the field. On the Choctaw 32 yard line, Reed would complete a touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Kenneth Channelle to improve the score to 14-7 with a little over two minutes left in the quarter.

The Choctaws would run out of time on their next offensive possession and go into halftime without scoring again.

Now in the second half, Mississippi College would go three and out after receiving the third quarter kickoff. Later on offense, Reed would score on a designed run from inside the five yard line to tie the game 14-14.

With 5:23 left in the third quarter, Argo defensive end Ty Cox would recover a fumble to turn the ball back over to his offense. UWF then scored a rushing touchdown on the first play in the fourth quarter to give the Argos a first time lead in the game, 21-14.

After back and forth three and outs by both offenses, the Choctaws would have another opportunity to tie the score with less than seven minutes left in the game. Passing the ball well, Mississippi College would find themselves in the red zone with less than a minute on the clock.

With five seconds left in the game on a fourth and goal play, Detric Hawthorn would score on a quarterback draw; tying the game and bringing both teams into overtime.

The Choctaws would have the ball first on offense in the extra period. Starting on the Argo 25 yard line, two successful run plays would advance them even closer to the end zone.

However, a chop block penalty called on the backside of the second run play would set them back 15 yards. The Argo defense was determined to stop the drive and would stand tall once again.

 Redshirt freshman linebacker Gael Laurent sacked Hawthorn on third down to hold the Choctaws out of the end zone, forcing them to attempt a field goal.

Mississippi College would miss the field goal attempt and give the ball over to UWF.

The Argos managed to put up two solid run plays to give them a first down within the 15 yard line. However, the Choctaws would stop the next two plays behind the line of scrimmage forcing UWF into a third and long situation.

Scrambling right on the final play of the game, Reed would connect with Grant in the end zone to win it for UWF. This victory now marks the first time in Argo football history that the team has won in overtime.

“Right when I let go of it I just had the feeling, Kevin is coming down with this,” Reed said. “I threw it and just dropped. I just started praying.”

Reed continued, “A lot of people would look at a 19-year old kid and say is he not ready for this. And it’s just crazy to be able to come out there and come back and to be able to do what we did.”

“I haven’t been Gatorade-dumped except in the playoffs, so our players obviously thought it was a big moment,” UWF coach Pete Shinnick said. “I had to change shirts, my pants are soaking wet… but what a fun deal.”

West Florida finished the game with 392 yards of total offense managing to pull off a perfect split of 196 yards between the run and pass game, respectfully. The Argo offense also managed to amass 21 first downs and scored on three out of five red zone possessions.

“Their defense was excellent,” Grant said. “They were being patient they weren’t being aggressive so once we realized that we could dominate them at the line of scrimmage we just took over from there.”

Defensively speaking, the Argo’s starting 11 played a stout game and held the Choctaws to only 42 passing yards on 12 attempts.

Archie and Laurent were the ring leaders of the defense. Archie amassed eight tackles and two sacks and Laurent put up six tackles and one sack.

Adding to their stats, the UWF defense has now forced at least one turnover in 37 out of 41 all-time games.

“This was a pretty big win,” Reed said. “You know the GSC is the SEC of Division II so we knew going into it that it was gonna be a pretty good game. They do different things where they run that triple option and they eat up the clock so being able to go out and win a game like that -or any game- was epic.”

Now with a 3-1 overall record, the Argos will have to defend their home turf once again next week against GSC opponent Delta State in their Homecoming game match up. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Saturday, October 5 at Blue Wahoo’s stadium.

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