As bad as it looked early on for the University of West Florida football team Saturday night, the Argonauts never gave up in their Gulf South Conference opener against Valdosta State.
And that was something UWF head coach Pete Shinnick was proud of in the wake of his team’s 30-19 loss to the Blazers in front of a crowd of 5,416 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
“I love that the guys continue to fight and continue to believe,” Shinnick said. “We continue to learn and continue to grow.”
UWF is now 2-1 overall and has managed only 22 points in its last four conference games dating back to last season.
The Argos fell behind 21-0 after John Marvin returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Blazers a three-touchdown advantage with 6:49 to go in the first half.
A school record four field goals by Austin Williams, including three in the first half, kept the Argos within striking distance of a victory against a Blazers team that is traditionally one of the top programs in NCAA Division II football.
Even with hope fading in the final minutes, the Argos remained determined and Gage Krull caught a 15-yard scoring strike from Mike Beaudry with 29 seconds remaining in the game. It’s the first time this season UWF has scored only one touchdown in a game.
The Blazers came in at 0-2 but sometimes records can be deceiving. VSU rose to the occasion on defense when it mattered, keeping the Argos out of the end zone on four of their five trips into the red zone.
“We knew Valdosta was better than 0-2. We talked about that all week,” Shinnick said. “We have to play better to put ourselves in a better situation at the end of the game to try and figure out a way to win.”
378: Yards the Argos racked up against the Blazers. It’s the first time this year UWF has outgained an opponent. VSU finished with 300 yards.
305: Passing yards Mike Beaudry threw rolled up on a night when he completed 22 of his 42 passes.
109: Receiving yards Antoine Griffin finished with. He caught five passes on the night, his longest catch covering 61 yards.
3: Sacks the Argos racked up in the game against the Blazers. VSU finished with six sacks.
9: Tackles Sam Adams tallied for the Argos. He was the leading tackler on the night. Five other players came up with at least five tackles.