UWF Ignites For Bounce-Back Rout of MC to Enhance Postseason Opportunity

November 5, 2023

In games this season following a loss, UWF’s football team has responded with turnaround, complete-game performances.

The Argos added a pivotal one Saturday with a 42-14 win against Mississippi College at Robinson-Hale Stadium, which now sets up an opportunity to attain their fifth post-season trip in UWF’s seven-year tenure.

Bolstered earlier this week by a No. 4 position in the NCAA Division II Super Region 2 rankings, the Argos (7-3) further helped themselves by responding from a 7-0 deficit in the second quarter with five consecutive touchdowns against MC for a blowout win.

“Our guys were relentless,” said UWF coach Kaleb Nobles, referring to the surge that became with a game-tying touchdown in the second quarter. “They did a great job of doing what they’re supposed to do and playing with a lot better effort and focusing.

“It has kind of confirmed what I know about our team… is that they have something in their chest about them that is pretty resilient. They have a great heart about them, great spirit about them. They know in the three losses, we played good teams and they played us very well, but we also didn’t play our best in those games.

“But I am excited about how we have responded. I hate the opportunity to respond after a loss, because it means we lost, but I’m proud of the way we have come off losses.”

This was the third consecutive season UWF has played at Mississippi College. Saturday’s win was the second-largest margin of victory in the eight times these teams have played – all won by the Argos.

The Argos will head into their season-finale next Saturday against winless Chowan University (0-9) at UWF’s Pen Air Field knowing a win could seal a place among the 28 team-field in the Division II playoffs.

Seven teams from each of the four NCAA D-2 Super Regions make the playoffs.

“We feel like this is when you’ve got to play your best,” Nobles said. “A lot goes into it, but teams are going to remember who wins in November and December. And so our guys know we’ve got to play at a high level. We’ve left some good football out on the field (in season), but we’ve got to play well this week coming up and hopefully that leads to us playing further in November and December.”

Coming off last Saturday’s heart-breaking home loss to Valdosta State in the final 36 seconds, the Argos’ offense started slow Saturday against the Choctaws.

Their first four possessions resulted in two punts, a missed field goal and a failed conversion on 4th-and-one.
The Choctaws had a 7-0 lead after a 9-play, 80-yard drive was capped by quarterback Cameron Davis’ 1-yard run with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

The Argos tied the game with 6:04 left in the first half on a 42-yard touchdown run by Jamontez Woods that highlighted a 93-yard, nine play drive. It featured the Argos rushing attack and became part of the game’s big storyline.

Playing without leading rusher C.J. Wilson, who was sidelined by a minor injury, the Argos amassed 274 yards rushing on 42 attempts. Woods led the way with 113 yards on 12 carries. Jalen Bussey had 84 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries. Quarterback Peewee Jarrett added 53 yards on 10 carries to combine for the bulk of this yardage.

“CJ was just banged up a little bit and he’s going to be fine moving forward,” Nobles said. “Those guys (running backs) kind of cleaned up and shored up some things and we know with our o-line, you don’t have to be perfect and our guys just made plays behind them.

“It’s a testament to our offensive staff, how well they put together a really good run-game plan, but also to adjust to the game. (Choctaws) were doing some certain things that were a little bit different than we thought, which is kind of par for the course this season offensively. But it’s really a testament to our players, our offensive line, our running backs, tight ends and how well blocked up front and how we ran the ball.”

After UWF’s defense forced a quick stop, the Argos then took a 14-7 haftime lead on Jarrett’s 42-yard touchdown pass to John Jiles –part of another big day for Jiles with 110 yards on five catches and two touchdowns.

The game’s defining moment then happened within a two-minute span in the third quarter.

Mississippi College missed a 45-yard field goal with its first possession of the second half. The Argos took over and scored on a 41-yard pass from Jarrett to Jiles for a 21-7 lead.

On the ensuing possession, the Choctaws began at their on 9-yard line after a blocking penalty on the kick return. Forced to punt from their own 11, UWF defensive back Braylon Anderson from Saraland High near Mobile, swooped in and blocked the punt.

It was recovered in the end zone by linebacker Mi’Chaun Coward, a Niceville High grad, in the end zone for a touchdown and 28-7 lead.

“When you block a punt, that changes games,” Nobles said. “Braylon Anderson with a great block. That raises your opportunity to win. And that’s contagious.

“To be honest, we have been close on like seven of them this year. Finally, we got a perfect run through. Our guys did a great job running through the A-gap to get there and I’m just excited about how they finished that to get a touchdown on special teams.”

Ten seconds later, another big defensive play ensued. On the first snap from the kickoff, UWF defensive tackle Collin Shaw forced and recovered a fumble at the MC 27. On a 4th-and-21 situation from Choctaws’ 38, Nobles made the bold decision to go for it and Jarrett connected with Zac Offord for a 25-yard gain.

Two players later, Jarrett connected with Caden Leggett for an 11 yard touchdown and 35-7 lead. That’s three touchdowns in the third quarter to blow open the game and five scores in a 21-minute span.

“I challenged our guys pretty good at halftime,” Nobles said. “We had a great way to end (half) on the pass to Jiles, but we don’t need to play to the atmosphere (small crowd at stadium)… we need to play to our best and focus on what we’re supposed to do.

“And we did that in the second half.”

The Argos capped their scoring on Bussey’s 25-yard scoring run on a burst around the left sideline with 9:21 remaining in the game. The rest of the way, Nobles was able to utilize his backup players, including quarterbacks Michael Rich and Marcus Stokes.

Jarrett finished with 235 yards, three touchdowns, one interception. Receiver Anthony Ballard had three catches for 59 yards and Offord (48 yards) and Leggett (43 yards) were part of 294 yards passing.

Ralph Ortiz had eight tackles for UWF and a forced fumble.

This win enabled UWF to record its fifth season of at least seven wins in the program’s 7-year history.

“It’s special and it’s cool to have been a part of a lot of that stuff,” said Nobles, who was an assistant coach under Pete Shinnick for three seasons, including the national title team in 2019. “A huge shoutout to Coach Shinnick what his vision was for UWF football. I am excited that we’re able to keep doing that and hopefully keep adding more wins to this season.”

Written By Bill Vilona PHoto Emily Miller/UWF.


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