WINGATE, N.C. — History seems to be repeating itself.
For the second time in three years, the West Florida football team thoroughly beat No. 16 Wingate 38-17 on Saturday in Wingate, North Carolina, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division II postseason.
The last time the two squared off, the Argos kicked off a streak of four straight postseason wins with a 31-0 decision that led them all the way to a national championship appearance.
Saturday’s contest was similarly slanted in No. 20 UWF’s favor, the Argos (9-2 overall) answering the Bulldogs’ opening field goal with 31 straight points to take a 31-3 lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
Tabbed as the Gulf South Conference’s Offensive Freshman of the Year earlier this week, UWF quarterback Austin Reed completed only eight passes for 165 yards against the Bulldogs (10-2), though three went for touchdowns, including a 56-yard bomb to Navarre alumnus Quentin Randolph early in the second quarter that gave UWF a 10-0 lead.
Randolph caught a second touchdown with 4:11 left in the third quarter to cap the 31-0 run.
Reed’s touchdowns aside, the Argos’ ground game did most of the heavy lifting in the yardage department.
Junior Anthony Johnson Jr., a Pace alumnus, paced UWF with 109 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Pine Forest alumnus Jaden Gardner chipped in 55 yards and a score on 15 totes.
Ranked eighth in the country in terms of scoring defense, UWF held the Bulldogs without a touchdown through the game’s first three quarters, running back Nijere Peoples finally breaking the plane with a 1-yard run less than a minute into the final frame.
The Bulldogs added a second touchdown on Kalen Clark’s 3-yard run with just a minute left, the game already well in hand.
Wingate totaled just 264 yards off offense against the Argos and turned the ball over three times.
With the victory, UWF has earned the right to a rematch with No. 1 Valdosta State on Saturday. The Blazers held a 20-0 lead at halftime on Nov. 9, but the Argos rallied and were within a few dropped passes of taking a late lead in a 26-21 loss.