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by Jason Cahn

On Saturday, November 2 the West Florida football team won a nail biter defeating the North Greenville Crusaders 17-14. While it wasn’t pretty, a win is a win, and the Argos now have a new a school record of seven consecutive victories.

After two road games and coming off an impressive 38-14 win over Florida Tech, the Argos (7-1 GSC 6-0) were looking to stay undefeated in the GSC.

North Greenville (3-6 GSC 2-5) is coming off a heartbreaking but thrilling loss against the undefeated and defending GSC champion Valdosta State 20-15. After giving Valdosta state everything, they could handle, they were looking to upset the Argonauts.

The Argonauts received the opening kickoff, but mistakes were made on the first play from scrimmage. Freshman quarterback Austin Reed’s pass was intercepted by Greenville safety Aaron Watson and returned 32 yards for a pick six giving Greenville a 7-0 lead.

“It was downright pathetic how we started; it was really bad. Starting with me first, that interception was terrible,” Reed said about how UWF started the game. “It’s been a bit of a joke during the week that I throw interceptions on the first drive of wins but… It needs to stop.”

Head coach Pete Shinnick has noticed the early interceptions by Reed, saying, “I feel like If I could figure that out my life would be a whole lot easier. But it’s a part of growth. But I love how he responded and how he handled himself”

UWF continued to turn it over with the second play of the very next drive freshman running back Shomari Mason fumbled after a three-yard run which was recovered by Greenville corner Jeremiah Bogan.

Even though the offense turned the ball over, the defense would hold strong forcing consecutive punts by the Greenville offense.

But when it rains it pours and with seven minutes left in the first quarter, UWF junior receiver Ka’Ron Ashley fumbled a punt which gave the Crusaders the ball on the UWF 14-yard line.

And once again, the defense stood firm forcing the Crusaders to attempt a 28-yard field goal which was missed wide left.

Once the Argos were able to settle down UWF was able to get on the scoreboard with a 30-yard field goal by senior kicker Austin Williams cutting into the deficit 7-3.

The Argos were finally able to find the endzone after a 12 play 80-yard drive in the third quarter when sophomore Jervon Newton rushed up the middle for a one-yard score giving the Argos the lead 10-7.

To start the fourth quarter the Argos put up the most impressive drive of the season, a nine play 99-yard drive capped off with a play of the season contender when Reed found Ashley for 38-yard over the shoulder touchdown.

“It was a statement drive. We’re backed up against the wall up 10-7, let’s go put this thing away.” Reed explained.

After holding strong all game, the defense would give up their first touchdown when Greenville quarterback Donny Baker found receiver Lucas Catalfomo for a 25-yard touchdown strike cutting the lead to 17-14.

With only 2:12 left on the clock the Crusaders recovered an onside kick but were unable to gain any yards on the UWF defense and turned it over on downs, giving UWF the victory 17-14.

Coach Shinnick had nothing but good things to say about the Argo defense saying, “First off our defense is playing shutout football. After the onside [kick] to hold them right around midfield, great job by them.”

Reed finished the game 21 of 32 for 254 yards one touchdown and one interception. Ka’Ron Ashley led the game in receiving with six receptions for 77 yards and one touchdown.

Even though UWF lost the turnover battle the defense shined the most giving up only one touchdown and holding the Crusaders to 122 yards passing.

“Our guys were playing hard, believing, but we obviously made early mistakes that gave them life and gave them the opportunity to be in the game. I just felt that If we didn’t turn the ball over in the second half, we’d be in a good position,” coach Shinnick explained. “I’ve been coaching a long time and I’ve lost these games. When nothing’s going right, I’ve seen my team lose. Credit to our team as a whole to find a way to win this game.”

Next Saturday, November 9th the Argonauts have a big one against the reigning GCS champion Valdosta State. Both teams are undefeated in conference play and the game will start at 7pm at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta, GA.

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