The 20th-ranked UWF football team has shown it can win at home, on the road, in a tropical storm, and now, with a lengthy in-game lightning delay as the Argonauts defeated in-state rival Florida Tech, 38-14, in the Coastal Classic at Panther Stadium Saturday.
UWF (6-1, 5-0 Gulf South Conference) ran its winning streak to six games and regained possession of the Coastal Classic Trophy for the third time in four years of its existence. The trophy is presented to the winner of the annual game between the only Division 2 football-playing schools in the state of Florida. The 6-game win streak also ties the program record set in 2017.
UWF finished with 224 yards passing and 172 rushing. Shomari Mason ran 10 times for 103 yards with a touchdown. Austin Reed completed 18 passes to nine different receivers, including Tate Lehtio who had seven receptions for 71 yards and a score.
The Argos claimed a 7-0 lead 10 minutes into the game when Reed found Lehtio in the back of the end zone on a 4-yard pass. Moments later the lightning sirens at Palm Bay High School went off and the teams headed to the locker rooms for what turned out to be a 82-minute delay.
When play resumed, UWF, which had already forced two turnovers, got another on a muffed punt early in the second quarter. That led to a 25-yard Austin Williams field goal for a 10-0 lead.
FT battled back and got a 91-yard run by Mike DiLiello two plays later.
The Argos collected their fourth turnover of the day on the next FIT possession when Kion Holder fought off a block before he turned and stripped Corey Lane from behind on a swing pass and recovered it himself. That setup Reed’s 1-yard run six plays later to push the lead to 17-7 entering the half.
UWF came out and scored on the first two possessions of the third quarter to extend the lead to 31-7. Mason broke through for a 61-yard score on the second play of the half. Following a 3-and-out for the Panthers, the Argos went back to work and this time Melbourne native Kevin Grant made a 1-handed catch 50 yards into a 65-yard touchdown with a defender hanging all over him.
The Panthers scored on their next possession before the Argonauts responded with the final touchdown of the game – a 2-yard Jaden Gardner run that capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive.
UWF was 11-of-17 on third down and scored on four of five times inside the red zone.
Dawson Hamlin punted just three times but had a 51.7 average with two of those inside the 20-yard line.
Henry Montgomery led the way on defense with 10 tackles, while UWF had three sacks and another two tackles for loss on the day.
FT (3-5, 1-4) had 384 yards of total offense and 197 on the ground, with 91 on the long DiLiello rush. The Panthers have now lost their last four contests. DiLielo and Trent Chmelik combined for 17-of-37 passing for 187 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown.
UWF returns home next week to play host to North Greenville (3-5, 2-4). Saturday’s game will kickoff at 4:00 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Tickets are available for as low as $10 in the bleacher seats and can be purchased at GoArgos.com/FootballTix.
***This report was provided to ESPN Pensacola by Brian Henry, head of Argos Athletics Communication.