UWF Ends 8-Win Regular Season 48-37 Over UWA

November 17, 2019

They honored a senior class before kickoff Saturday which had guided the University of West Florida football team from infancy to national relevance.
And then, redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Reed produced an unforgettable performance to ensure a fitting sendoff and post-season, playoff berth.

Reed’s brilliance included completing his first seven passes, then throwing for 443 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Argos won a 48-37 shootout against West Alabama at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“It’s just such a good group of seniors and they have all been such leaders since the moment I stepped on campus,” said Reed, who remembered his previous career high passing was 375 yards at St. Augustine High. “To have those seniors and be able to step up, it’s just blessing.

“I can’t say anything, but thank God. It’s just a blessing, 100 percent.”

On this crystal-clear afternoon, amid a crowd of 5,619 which will put UWF again among the top tier in NCAA Division II attendance, Reed’s performance was also essential.

It assured the Argos (8-2) will advance into the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second time in the program’s four-year history, another first-time feat in NCAA history. The Argos reached the national title game in 2017, completing a breakthrough where no prior college football program at any level had gone from start-up to title game in two years.

The win was also UWF’s first regular-season win against West Alabama, one of its Gulf South Conference rivals. The Argos, however, won at West Alabama in a region championship game in 2017 en route to reaching the championship game.

UWF will learn its first-round matchup in the 2019 playoffs during a selection show on NCAA.com at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Argos won’t have a home-field edge, which goes only for the top four seeds, but they are definitely part of the 28-team field.

“No (young) program has had that opportunity,” said UWF coach Pete Shinnick. “When we built this team we had to find the right fit and right team for Pensacola. I think what we have done the last three years… and be within seven points (last week at Valdosta State) of the Gulf South Conference championship, I couldn’t be prouder of what our guys have been able to accomplish.”

UWF and West Alabama combined for 1,191 yards total offense. This included 788 passing yards and 62 first downs. West Alabama never punted. UWF punted twice.

So, that kind of track meet.

“For us, it was just fun,” Reed said. “Especially as an offense, we love to put together a game like that and really help our defense out. Really all year they have been so strong. For us to get in the one game where  they needed help and go out and do it was special.”

Shinnick later joked,  ”Fun for me is 50 to nothing.”

Instead, Saturday was back and forth, featuring plenty of stars.

UWF senior receiver Quentin Randolph, a Navarre High grad, led the receiver corps with 171 yards and three touchdowns. His 50-yard TD catch with 12:26 remaining broke a tie and put UWF ahead 41-34.

Running back Anthony Johnson, a Pace High graduate, then finished a game-sealing, eight-play, 75-yard drive with his nine-yard touchdown with 1:24 remaining. Johnson finished with a team-high 13 carries for 44 yards.

Randolph produced the second-best receiving performance in UWF’s four-year history.

“It’s probably the best football game I have had in my 18 years playing football. It was phenomenal,” Randolph said. “On senior night and magnitude like this on win or go home. This game meant a lot to me.
“After how we performed last week at Valdosta, it was pretty awesome to see us explode like this. I think this is the only game the defense hasn’t carried us. To be able to flip the script was pretty awesome.”

While the defense did surrender its most points all season, the Argos twice stopped West Alabama inside the 10 to force field goals and UWF defensive tackle Daryl Wilson recovered a third-quarter fumble at the 1 to thwart a touchdown.

Wilson finished with four tackles. Teammate and linebacker Chanler Ferguson, who forced that fumble, led UWF’s defense with 10 tackles.

“We always practice red zone (defense). We had to bow our neck and give everything we got,” Wilson said. “You want to make a big play out there. Offense had it done for us. We knew they were going to put up points and we just had to get a couple stops.”

Randolph was among seven UWF players with two or more catches. Tate Lehtio, a senior and UWF’s leading receiver had five catches for 62 yards. He was vital on several conversion down catches and on UWF’s first possession of the game, which ended with Randolph’s 27-yard touchdown.

Lehtio said the game’s back-and-forth flow helped the offense bear down.

“I think it’s good pressure to have actually,” he said. “You are sitting there and you are not complacent. I think that pressure helped us to succeed on offense.

“We have been in a playoff mode these last couple weeks.”

Lehtio was part of a group of seniors who took leaps of faith to attend UWF when football had no history.
“The vision is coming true,” he said. “We always talked about what it could be and what it had potential to do. To see it happen is just incredible.”

In addition to Randolph’s three touchdowns, receivers Kenneth Channelle and Rodney Coates each had a score, and offensive tackle Samuel Antoine fell on a fumble in the end zone, after a Reed run, for the Argos second touchdown.

It was part of a day where everything Reed did turned out well.

“It’s kind of like euphoria you kind of get into,” he said. “You’re feeling everything. You know what the defense is doing, how your receivers are getting open. I get into this zone. The minute I see it, it clicks.”

When asked where Reed’s performance ranked with him, Randolph said. “Don’t tell him I said this… but number one. Nineteen years old and a redshirt freshman…. for him to have the game he had. I am really proud of that kid.”


One Response to “UWF Ends 8-Win Regular Season 48-37 Over UWA”

  1. question mark on November 17th, 2019 3:27 pm

    I am one proud alum! Class of `74.

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