UWF Gets Big 45-19 First Round Playoff Win Over Limestone

November 20, 2022

De’Mareyae Givens well-remembered the anguish from a year ago when UWF exited the first round of the NCAA playoffs, after a shocking upset loss at home as the No. 1 region seed.

“That didn’t feel good,” he said. “I didn’t want that to be our situation. I am a senior and this is my last chance. We’ve got to keep going and I’m going to give all I’ve got.”

His determination produced a pivotal moment Saturday when he blocked a punt, then scooped the ball and scored with 11 seconds left before halftime, building an 18-point lead that the Argos eventually carried into a 45-19 victory against Limestone University in the first-ever NCAA Division II playoff game on campus at Pen Air Field.

Before a crowd of 2,147 on a cold, raw and light raining day, the Argos build at 31-6 lead early in the third quarter, overcome Limestone’s two touchdowns to trim the deficit and cruised the rest of the way into their 10th post-season win. It extends the best winning percentage (10-2 in four years) among any NCAA D-2 team.

“The momentum at the end of the half, that was huge,” said UWF coach Pete Shinnick. “That really gave our guys a lot of energy. But I love how we played just to answer the call. Not the prettiest game on offense, but I will take 45 points any time, anywhere. I think all our guys were very aware of a year ago, so to put ourselves in this situation right now is fantastic.”

The win sends No. 3 region seed UWF (10-2), which just attained its third season of 10 or more wins in the team’s brief, six-year history, into the Super Region 2 semifinals next Saturday in a rematch against Gulf South Conference rival Delta State, a 51-0 winner against Fayetteville (N.C.) State in another first-round game Saturday. The game will be at 1 p.m. next Saturday in Cleveland, Mississippi.

The Statesmen earned a higher seed (No. 2) by virtue of beating UWF 45-42 in double overtime on September 24 in Pensacola. Since that game, the Argos have reeled off eight straight wins.

“We have been saying this since we got into the league our first year (2016). You have to win the Gulf South Conference twice, because almost every year there will be two or three GSC teams in the playoffs,” Shinnick said. “We’ve had to go through this before. When we lost to (Delta State) the feeling was we would see them again.”

The Argos wound up with a 26-point win Saturday, but that is deceiving.

Limestone (8-3), which did not win a game a year ago (0-9) and was playing in its first-ever NCAA playoff game, set an early-game tone by driving to UWF’s 25 on the game’s first possession, then being thwarted on a goal-line stand by the Argos defense on Limestone’s third possession. On a fourth-and-goal call from the 2, the Saints’ star running back Tre Stewart was stood up by UWF’s defensive line.

And in the third quarter, Limestone cut the deficit to 12 points and had its boisterous contingent of fans in an emotional pitch after recovering a botched punt catch attempt by UWF’s David Durden and recovering the bouncing football in the end zone for a touchdown.

“That’s a very good football team we just played and very tough environment to play in but I’m very proud of our kids with the resolve they had,” said Limestone’s third-year coach Mike Furrey, whose team set a school record for most wins in a season and most conference wins in the South Atlantic Conference. The private school with less than 2,500 enrollment is located in Gaffney, South Carolina, about 55 miles southwest of Charlotte.

“I thought we cleaned some things up at halftime and went out and played the best we could play in the second half,” Furrey said. “This is one of the great stories in college football history what these kids (Saints) did going from 0-9 to 8-3 and making the playoffs. It’s never been done before in college football.

“What a great experience for us to play in this game and to be in the playoffs when nobody would have said that six months ago.”

Before the goal line stand from UWF’s defense late in the first quarter, the Argos scored the game’s first points when quarterback Peewee Jarrett scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns on a 19-yard run with 4:00 minutes left. Jarrett battled through a struggling day in the passing game, completing only seven of 18 attempts for 113 yards and was sacked three times.

One of the two pivotal moments in Saturday’s game occurred in the final two minutes of the first half. UWF led just 10-6 when Jarrett steered a nine-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by his 2-yard run with 1:11 left.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Limestone threw a pair of incompletions that kept the clocked stopped. With 24.2 seconds left on a punt from Bryan Frey, there were offsetting penalties, forcing a do-over kick.

This time, Givens burst free from a gap, blocked the ball with two hands and easily picked the ball off the bounce for a walk-in score from five yards out. When Griffin Cerra added the extra point, that once-four-point lead had swelled to 24-6.

“I did (feel a block was coming),” said Givens, a senior from Palatka. “With the spaces that were left in between two (Limestone) players and I know how quick I am to get off the ball, I thought I have a chance of blocking this kick. The snap was high. When (Frey) tried to bring it back down I was already there.

“I couldn’t sleep (Friday night) trying to think about this game. Last year had a lot to do with how this game turned out. I am a senior and I just wanted to do all I could to help us win.”

The Argos took a 31-6 lead on Ra’veon Hargove’s 3-yard run early in the third quarter. But that’s when the game’s second pivotal moment occurred. Limestone drove 64 yards for a touchdown later in the quarter. When the Argos defense got another stop, Frey’s punt to Durden was signaled as a fair catch. But Durden didn’t complete the catch and the ball bounded backwards to enable Limestone to recover it for a touchdown with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.

Suddenly, it’s now a 31-19 game, after the extra point failed.

“Dave muffed a punt which is something he doesn’t do,” Shinnick said. “It was very unfortunate, very uncharacteristic of us and Dave. But I will stick him back there any time. That was obviously something that cannot happen.

“But I still felt we were doing a lot of really good things… So I wasn’t sitting there panicking, but it was more like, okay we got the ball back, now we have to do something good. And I felt like our guys understood the situation well.”

UWF answered less than three minutes later when Jarrett hooked up with Durden on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the back left corner of the end zone.

“I felt like our offense has been electric all season,” Jarrett said. “Big play touchdowns, one play drives. I knew it was coming throughout the game, I like Dave one on our against whoever he faces in that situation.”

From that point, UWF stayed in control. Hargrove led UWF in rushing with 121 yards. CJ Wilson had 66 yards and Shomari Mason had 40 as UWF amassed 259 yards on the ground.

Willie Jordan led UWF’s defense with 11 tackles. Will Breland and Sharrod Oliver both had interceptions. It was a far different ending to this first-round playoff game as compared to the Argos’ 33-30 overtime loss a year ago to Newberry at Blue Wahoos Stadium. That became the final game UWF played at the bayfront baseball stadium.

Shinnick credits this team’s experienced leadership with practice efforts that emphasized not to take Limestone as an easy game.

“Our seniors did a good job this week staying true to that,” he said. “They understood the heartache and they understood the disappointment from a year ago. Last year we had a punt blocked, this year we blocked a punt. Last year we threw interceptions, this year we won the turnover game.”

By doing so, UWF gets an opportunity against Delta State to continue its amazing postseason streak. The Argos have not lost a playoff game at another team’s stadium.

“Like to see that continue,” Shinnick said.

By Bill Vilona, UWF Senior Writer. Photo: Morgan Givens/UWF.

Comments

3 Responses to “UWF Gets Big 45-19 First Round Playoff Win Over Limestone”

  1. EricW on November 21st, 2022 11:39 am

    Hope the Argos don’t take the Fighting Okra too lightly! Ever fight an Okra? They are slimy if not prepared correctly!!!

  2. Ha ha on November 20th, 2022 6:45 pm

    Lol– top notch nutrition for college athletes!

  3. Olin Schultz on November 20th, 2022 10:09 am

    I saw the limestone team Friday at Golden Corral! Them boys ate everything their stomachs could hold. The last meal before defeat should be hearty! Good job argos!





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