2023 West Florida vs West Alabama

West Alabama Shakes Up Gulf South Race With Upset Of West Florida

West Alabama Shakes Up Gulf South Race With Upset Of West Florida

West Florida is the latest to fall victim to the dreaded trap game, going on the road to face West Alabama, who into the game at 1-3 in Gulf South play.

Oct 19, 2023 by Ron Balaskovitz

The trap game.

While there may not be an official definition of it, the easiest way to sum it up would be, “The game before the really big game.”

You constantly hear pundits bring it up in every sport, trying to warn a team to not look ahead to the next week, and past the opponent that’s in front of them.

West Florida is the latest to fall victim to the dreaded trap game, going on the road to Livingston, Alabama to face a West Alabama team that came into the game at 1-3 in Gulf South play, and 2-4 overall.

It looked like just another stop on the road for West Florida ahead of a potential mega showdown this week with Delta State.

Instead, the host Tigers shook up the Gulf South Conference title race, and potentially the entire Division II playoff picture by pulling off the shocker of the season in Division II football, knocking off the Top-10 ranked Argonauts by a 10-6 final. The loss from West Florida leaves Delta State as the lone unbeaten in the GSC in conference and overall, and sets up the potential for chaos down the stretch with three teams at 3-1 in the conference, just a game back of Delta State, in a league that does not play a conference championship game.

The loss sent West Florida from No. 6 in the rankings and potentially in a position to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, to No. 18 this week, and still with two more dangerous games on the schedule.

Give full credit to West Alabama for pulling off an upset that I don’t think anyone saw coming. They came into the game limping, with a solid defense but the worst offense in the GSC, and their defense found a way to pick up a signature win for the team.

UWF’s dominant running game: Held to 56 net yards on 30 carries, including a sack for five yards, they posted 39 yards worth of negative running plays against a team that had been averaging nearly six yards per carry coming in.

And a passing game for West Florida that is one of the most feared in the country? The Tigers halted like the Argonauts hadn’t been in a long while. UWF star Peewe Jarrett completed just 40 percent of his throws, barely cleared 150 yards, and tossed an interception.

Throw in a Tiger defense that came up clutch time and time again, forcing the Argo offense to a combined 2 of 17 on third and fourth downs, and it was a start-to-finish domination of what was one of the best offenses in the nation.

That turnover was the lone giveaway from West Florida, the weather wasn’t terrible, it was just a good, old-fashioned shutdown effort from West Alabama, whose nine-play, 81-yard touchdown drive capped early in the second quarter proved to be just enough in front of a packed house at Tiger Stadium.

While West Alabama is likely out of the title race at 2-3 in the Gulf South, the win opens all kinds of strange scenarios down the stretch in the GSC race and the hunt for the Division II playoffs, starting this weekend.

West Florida has little time to rebound and figure out what went wrong in the loss, as they travel to Mississippi to take on No. 5 Delta State, the leader of the GSC at 5-0. Last season Delta State won the regular season meeting between the two teams, but West Florida answered with a win in the playoffs, so a UWF victory on Saturday is not out of the question at all. A UWF win there could also shake up things way down the line for the GSC, with a champion that could rank outside the Top-10, and not have home-field advantage after the opening round of the playoffs.

It was one big upset from West Alabama and one that could have far-reaching effects beyond dropping UWF in the national rankings.

Should UWF rebound and beat Delta State, it potentially leaves four teams with one loss in the standings, battling it out to try and determine the conference’s automatic playoff qualifier. In a league that has no championship game, and calls teams co-champions should they tie with the same league record, even if one team beats another head-to-head.

Teams like Valdosta State and West Georgia, who might have thought they were out of the title race after losses to Delta State, Valdosta’s lone loss of the season, and West Florida, West Georgia’s lone GSC loss, are suddenly right back in the thick of things with four conference games remaining.

The trap game snuck up and bit West Florida thanks to one of the great defensive efforts of the season by West Alabama, and with it, a whole bunch of teams, scenarios, and drama unfolded with a month to go in the Gulf South football season.