Demetri Burch jumped into the air and came down with the football, He lost his balance after the catch but managed to go forward and roll into the end zone.
Not even two minutes into the game Saturday, the University of West Florida football team had just thrown the first punch against Delta State on Homecoming at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
It was the beginning of an all-around dominant performance by the Argonauts in a Gulf South Conference showdown between two of the three teams that entered the night tied for first.
A game set up to be a dogfight between contenders resulted in only one dog having any bite. UWF rolled to a 48-3 win over the Statesmen for its fourth consecutive victory.
Austin Reed threw four touchdown passes. He hit Burch twice and connected with Rodney Coates and Ka’Ron Ashley as well, completing 15 of his 24 passes while torching DSU for 262 yards.
“They gave us the man look we thought they were going to give us, and we knew with the kind of receivers we have, all those guys on the outside, we knew we were going to have fun with it,” Reed said. “All glory to God. It was a great night for us.”
And a great night for Burch, a transfer out of Oregon who had a chance to showcase his skills.
Both of his catches went for touchdowns. And both of his catches were made with his athletic ability on full display.
“I got a chance to show what I can do and took advantage of it,” Burch said.
The Argos (4-1, 3-0) were able to run the ball as well. They chipped away at a DSU defense that came in having yet to give up 100 yards of rushing in a game. UWF churned out 177 yards on the ground.
Standing just 5-feet-6-inches tall, Shomari Mason led the attack, rushing for two scores, including a 57-yard sprint to the end zone with 6:56 left in the game.He finished with 100 yards.
UWF head coach Pete Shinnick came in confident the grind-it-out mentality on the ground would pay off.
“I said let’s not make any mistakes and let’s not do anything silly. Let’s just keep wearing on them,” Shinnick said.
As effective as the Argos were on offense, they were equally impressive on defense.
Aggressive all night, the Argos held DSU (3-2, 2-1), accustomed to pounding teams with its run game, to a 112 yards, well under its average (217).
The Argos put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, getting three fourth-down stops and allowing just 105 yards through the air.
“What I saw out of our D-line and defense, it was in attack mode. It was confident in what it was doing,” Shinnick said. “It was a great game plan by coach Darian Dulin (defensive coordinator) and his staff. They let our guys run free and gave them an opportunity to make a lot of plays.”
UWF closed out the first half with a 21-0 lead thanks to perfect pass from Reed to Rodney Coates in stride just one play after being sacked.
Ashley and Burch caught touchdown passes in the third and Mason punched in both of his touchdowns in the fourth. Taylor Crabtree’s 25-yard field goal were the Statesmen’s only points. It’s their lowest point total since 2002.
“Our mindset was shutout. No points scored at all. That was the mentality everyone had,” linebacker Gael Laurent said.
UWF enters its bye week sharing first-place GSC real estate with reigning national champion Valdosta State. The Argos just played their best game of the year. They hope their best is yet to come in pursuit of their first conference crown in program history.
“Don’t stop now. Foot on the brakes. I mean, foot off the brakes. We have to keep going,” Laurent said.
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