2023 Gulf South Conference Football

Huge Gulf South Rematch Is Set For The Div. II Playoffs

Huge Gulf South Rematch Is Set For The Div. II Playoffs

Delta State and West Florida's regular-season matchup was an instant classic. The two lock up again, this time in the NCAA Playoffs.

Nov 22, 2022 by Ron Balaskovitz
Highlights: Delta State Vs. West Florida

The opening round of the Div. II Playoffs featured little drama, with just three of the 12 games in the opening round decided by single-digit-point margins – and the three competitive contests were all in the same Regional.

The Gulf South’s pair of playoff contenders in West Florida and Delta State both took care of business emphatically, crushing overmatched opponents and setting up a rematch between the co-conference champions with a berth in the regional final on the line.

West Florida at Delta State, 1 p.m. CST

When the bracket was revealed, the Argos and Statesmen could have been forgiven for possibly looking past their opening-round opponents, and turning their attention to a rematch with each other in the 2nd Round.

If either were looking ahead, however, it didn’t show. Delta State hammered Fayetteville State in a 51-0 shutout, and West Florida rolled past upstart Limestone, 45-19, setting up what is the unofficial Gulf South Championship game.

DSU dominated from the get go last Saturday, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, and racing out to a 38-0 halftime lead, leaving zero doubt about the outcome, while also giving the Statesmen a chance to rest some of their starters.

The Statesmen scored in all three phases in the win, getting a Bernard Thomas punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, a Christia Gomez scoop and score three minutes later in the second quarter to essentially put the game away.

The offense racked up over 400 yards, kicker Nick Herber booted three field goals and was perfect on extra points. While the offense was rolling, the defense held Fayetteville State to 250 yards of offense, less than 3.5 yards per play, forcing seven punts and five turnovers.

For a team that is 11-1, it’s all the more impressive that Round 1 might have been the Statesmen’s most complete game of the season.

While Delta State’s game was a laugher from the second quarter on, West Florida’s 45-19 final was closer than it might look. The Argos racing out to a 31-6 lead early in the third quarter before Limestone scored a pair of third quarter touchdowns to pull within 12. However, the Argos pulled away in the fourth quarter.

The Argos got four touchdowns from quarterback Peewee Jarrett, three on the ground and one through the air, while special teams chipped in with a a De’Mareyae Givens took a punt to the house in the second quarter.

UWF wore down Limestone with a rushing attack that totaled 259 yards on 46 carries, while the defense forced three turnovers. Add it all up and it’s two teams that are clicking at the right time as they prepare to face each other. The rematch might be the most anticipated game on the Division II schedule this weekend, after the two two played a classic in the regular season, where Delta State went to West Florida and pulled out a 45-42 double-overtime thriller.

In that win over West Florida, DSU forced four turnovers, including recovering a fumble in overtime that set up what proved to be the game-winning field goal.

Quarterback Patrick Shegog continued his impressive start to the season, putting his name into the Conference Player of the Year race with 294 passing yards and three scores, while adding another 82 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

On the other side of that coin, West Florida has to look back at that game and feel like it let one get away in the loss, coughing the ball up four times yet still managing to put up an astounding 662 yards of offense.

The Argos rushed for 386 yards as a team, led by Shomari Mason’s 214, while quarterback Peewee Jarrett continued his stellar play in the season’s first month. He rolled up over 360 yards of total offense and passed for four touchdowns in the loss.

Needless to say, the odds of Saturday’s game being an offensive showcase are high.

The key to watch in the rematch is the turnover battle. DSU has dominated in turnover margin all season long, and that continued in the opening round by forcing Fayetteville State into five.

If there’s something that makes West Florida feel good about their chances in the rematch, it’s that the Argos gave the ball away four times back in September, and DSU still needed double overtime to beat them.

It all sets up for what could be another classic between the two best teams in the Gulf South this season.