2023 North Greenville vs Valdosta State

Gulf South Week 4 Preview: Best Of The West

Gulf South Week 4 Preview: Best Of The West

Here's what to know about the Gulf South Conference football games in week 3, including West Georgia vs. West Florida.

Sep 21, 2023 by R. R. Ellis

League play is in full swing across the Gulf South Conference, with four league games in the books and Delta State, Shorter, North Greenville, and West Georgia all nabbing wins thus far in the early going.

This week, the GSC competition ramps up with a full four-game slate, including a pair of intriguing matchups that could determine both the conference and playoff fates of the teams in place.

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The headline comes in the form of West Georgia visiting West Florida, with the Wolves needing a win to prove they belong among the league’s elites, while West Florida looks to cement itself among the nation’s best teams in its GSC opener.

West Georgia (2-1) Vs. No. 7 West Florida (2-1)

Location: Pen Air Field; Pensacola, Florida

Last Week: West Georgia defeated Mississippi College, 38-35; West Florida lost to Florida A&M, 31-10.

Series History: West Florida leads the all-time series, 4-3; West Florida defeated West Georgia last season, 42-28. 

In what’s been a heated and close rivalry since UWF introduced football seven seasons ago, the Wolves come off a thrilling 38-35 win over Mississippi College, rallying from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to claim its GSC opener. West Florida, on the other hand, had its shot against an in-state FCS foe, but struggled to get things going in a 31-10 loss to HBCU power Florida A&M.

For West Georgia, the heroes last week were the duo of quarterback Ben Whitlock and receiver Cole Terrill. That pair hooked up twice in the final nine minutes to rally the Wolves.

The two late touchdowns were a redemption story for Whitlock, who had thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns prior to the fourth-quarter scores.

In addition to Terrill, expect UWG to split QB duties as freshman Cameran Brown has been a dual threat for the Wolves in the early going, passing and rushing for more than 100 yards each in last week’s win, earning GSC Freshman of the Week honors. 

That pair has spread the ball around to 13 different receivers thus far, with Terrill being the big-play threat, averaging over 21 yards per grab so far this season.

In addition to Brown’s rushing prowess, running back Rajaez Mosley has averaged nearly 90 yards per game on the ground, part of a UWG ground game that has averaged 205 yards per game in the early going. 

That offense will look to get it done against a UWF defense that’s been one of the best in the nation against the run so far, even with an FCS foe on the schedule. The Argos are holding opposing rushers to just 2.7 yards per carry, and less than 90 yards per game. 

John McMullen has been the big disruptor for the Argos, racking up five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in those three games.

Prior to last week’s 31 points allowed to Florida A&M, the Argos had given up six combined points in its first two games against Division II competition.

When West Florida has the ball, the Argos like to be balanced, averaging over 380 yards per game and led by quarterback Peewee Jarrett. Jarrett is averaging over 230 yards through the air with six scores, and is second on the team with 76 rushing yards and two scores. 

Like his UWG counterparts, Jarrett has done it by spreading the ball around with 14 different receivers, with the duo of John Jiles and Caden Leggett combing for five touchdowns on 20 grabs.

Defensively, the Wolves have been good against the pass, giving less than 160 yards per game while snagging two interceptions, but they have been susceptible on the ground, yielding over 185 yards per game in the early going, with teams grinding out over four yards per carry against them. 

Keondre Williams has been the do-everything guy for the UWG defense, leading the team in tackles and sacks, while sitting second in tackles for loss.

If history is any indication, expect a close game and lots of points. Last season’s game at West Georgia was a one-score game for most of the evening before a late UWF touchdown put the game on ice.

Gulf South Games at a Glance

Shorter (2-1) Vs. No. 8 Delta State (3-0) 

Don’t look now, but the Shorter Hawks are suddenly hot, having won two games in a row, both in blowout fashion. The Hawks rolled future GSC member Erskine by three scores two weeks ago, and hung 57 on GSC newcomer Chowan last week to climb to 2-1. In that win over Chowan, the Hawks got 23 points from their defense and special teams, including pick sixes by Bryan Gilmore and Trey Thomas. 

Thomas also had a punt return and a blocked PAT return for scores. Delta State comes in on a roll, hosting FCS Mississippi Valley last week, and dominating in a 35-7 win to reach 3-0. Through three games, the Statesmen are averaging nearly 42 points per game, while holding opponents to just over 300 yards and 15 points per game. Last season, DSU crushed the Hawks in a 45-10 decision.

Benedict (3-0) Vs. Chowan (0-3) 

Chowan looks to break into the win column, or really to have something go their way after three straight blowouts to open the season. The Hawks have been outscored 130-38 through its first three games. They face a tough test in SIAC member Benedict, who has roared out of the gates during their 3-0 start, winning its three games by a combined 140-7 margin, including an 88-7 margin in two SIAC games.

Mississippi College (1-2) Vs. West Alabama (1-2) 

Two teams looking to rebound after close league losses a week ago. The Choctaws had an 11-point fourth quarter lead slip away from them in a three-point loss to West Georgia, while West Alabama had the clamps put on them by North Greenville in a 23-16 loss

Despite outgaining the Crusaders. The two teams met last season in Alabama, where the host Tigers rolled to a 38-16 win.

North Greenville (2-1) Vs. Valdosta State (3-0) 

Two teams who have gotten it done in opposite ways to open the season--North Greenville has relied on a staunch defense while Valdosta State is back to racking up points in its 3-0 start. North Greenville held off West Alabama last week, forcing two big turnovers. On the season, the Crusaders have given up just 43 points in three games, one of those games against an FCS opponent. 

Valdosta State, meanwhile, has been on fire offensively, scoring 133 points in its three wins, including games with 63 and 49. The Blazers are averaging over 515 yards per game so far, including nearly 340 yards passing. The two teams played a barnburner last season at North Greenville, where the Blazers scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. The two teams combined for almost 1,000 yards of offense in the game.