A UWF Football Senior Day With Substance, Style and Playoff-Clinching Rout

November 11, 2023

The sky had turned dark gray and the steady drizzle made it worse, but Saturday’s home finale for UWF’s football team evolved in a special way.

The Argos easily crushed Chowan University in a 52-6 victory on Senior Day at Pen-Air Field to end the regular-season by sealing another spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs, which begin next weekend.

Go ahead, add another feat to UWF’s brief history in this sport. This makes it four consecutive seasons when football was played – the 2020 season was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic – that the Argos have made the national field of 28 teams to play for a championship.

“I am enjoying every minute of it,” said senior center Oake Stipe, a veteran starter Saturday, who was a freshman on the 2019 UWF team which captured the D-2 national championship. “I’m thankful that I started off on a hot note and I’m hopeful it will end on a hot note.

“It is really special. But the way we have won makes it that much special. Of all the teams that make it to the playoffs only one finishes with a win. So just enjoy it.”

That enjoyment will continue Sunday afternoon when the UWF football team, support staff and families gathered for the annual end-of-season awards banquet that coincides with the NCAA’s selection show for the D-2 playoff field. The show will happen at 5 p.m. Sunday on www.ncaa.com.

The Argos (7-3), possessing a signature win against Delta State, the Gulf South Conference regular-season champion, were ranked No. 5 in the Super Region II prior to the game and seven teams in four regions will form the 28-team field.

“It will be cool to watch the experience and watch these guys celebrate,” said UWF first-year head coach Kaleb Nobles, who was the quarterback on the Argos’ inaugural 2016 team, then an assistant coach when UWF won the 2019 national title. “The team has earned this and we can celebrate together.”

Think about this: Seven years of a program and five playoff appearances.

“(Former UWF) Coach (Pete) Shinnick set the bar pretty high, playing for the ‘natty’ (national title) in year two (2017) and winning it in year four,” Nobles said. “I don’t know if I would have as much appreciation for that if I wasn’t here and part of it.

“For me it carries a lot of weight. But it is all about these players. It is about the players having a great time.”

After Nobles helped honor 16 seniors in a pregame ceremony, which included a nice touch of a photo with families at midfield, the Argos quickly refocused and gained complete control of the game before half.

UWF finished with 501 yards total offense on 61 plays and had just one turnover. They rushed for 260 yards, passed for 241.

On the opening possession Saturday, UWF needed just six plays to score the first touchdown. Quarterback Peewee Jarrett connected with senior receiver Caden Leggett on a 24-yard score that became the first of Leggett’s three touchdown receptions.

He added two more before halftime with a 36-yard play and 65-yard bomb from Jarrett. Both were on routes where Leggett easily beat one-on-one coverage and Jarrett threw perfect balls that hit Leggett in stride.

“It means a lot to me,” said Leggett, who finished his final game at PenAir Field with five catches for a team-high 127 yards. “A lot of my family is here. All of them have sacrificed so much for me to be in this position. It was awesome to get the win with the guys.

“We put in so much hard work throughout the week and developing on every aspect of the ball. The motto for this year was just to worry about us playing the best football we can, so it was a special night (Saturday) and I’m very blessed.”

At the other wideout spot, transfer senior John Jiles, finished his lone regular-season with the Argos, by setting the school’s single-season receiving record on a catch with 4:00 left in the second quarter. Jiles finished the game with seven catches for 82 yards.

He then caught an 18-yard pass with an over-the-shoulder grab from Jarett’s throw into the end zone corner to give UWF a 31-6 lead with 1:44 left before halftime.

Making the game even more special for Jiles, his mother was in attendance for the first time at UWF and got to watch him set the school receiving record.

“He is a great kid and comes from a great family,” Nobles said. “His mom was here and I think it’s the first time she has seen him play since high school.

“So what a great opportunity for him to play in front of family. An emotional day for him. He’s the last person worried about stats. That guy wants to win.”

But the Argos weren’t done, yet. Their defense forced a turnover and Leggett’s 65-yard bomb occurred on the next play with 52 seconds left.

With backups playing in the second half, Daryel Garcia, a junior from New Jersey, scored on a 4-yard rush and Jakobe Quillen caught a 16-yard pass from Jarrett later in the third quarter.

“Very excited about how our guys played, especially our seniors,” Nobles said. “We tried to give them a chance to push the ball around to guys like Caden Leggett, John Jiles and let them get some big time plays and some records, things like that.

“But I’m excited overall with how our team played. I thought we played well for a good chunk of 60 minutes. We keep getting better at doing that.

“We know whatever the road holds for us moving forward, it’s going to be a tough road and we have to keep doing our job. I’m excited with how we played in all three phases and how we handled the weather.”

Jalen Bussey led UWF’s running attack with 91 yards on just five carries. Jamontez Woods had 86 yards on 10 carries. Senior C.J. Wilson, battling through an injury, was able to play on his senior day and gained 22 yards on four carries.

Jarrett finished completing 13 of 21 passes for 241 yards and five touchdowns.

The Argos’ biggest play, the one that had the crowd of 3,979 Saturday most energized, occurred on Chowan’s first possession. Sophomore Amari Mitchell caught a deflected pass from teammate Collin Shaw and went 62 yards to set up the Argos second touchdown.

“It was good to start fast, start hot,” Nobles said. “We were ready to play. Our guys responded well and came out and played a high level.”


One Response to “A UWF Football Senior Day With Substance, Style and Playoff-Clinching Rout”

  1. Annie Canaday on November 12th, 2023 4:42 pm

    Congratulations to Coach Nobles
    and the Argos.