Impressive start to Gulf South Conference play for Argos
Jiles ended up finishing his day with a pair of touchdowns anyway as the Argos had their highest-scoring outing of the year in a convincing 49-21 win over West Georgia in their Gulf South Conference opener Saturday night at Pen Air Field.
UWF (3-1) was coming off a 31-10 loss to Division I Florida A&M a week ago in Tallahassee, but it was clear that defeat was in the rear-view mirror for the seventh-ranked team in NCAA Division II.
“I’m very excited about how the guys responded to the challenge,” first-year head coach Kaleb Nobles said. “It starts in practice. That’s where you get better. On the field, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It doesn’t just happen when the lights turn on Saturday night.”
On a picture-perfect mid-September evening in Pensacola, the sun starting to set as the game got underway in front of an electric crowd of 5,048, UWF wasted little time establishing itself as the better team.
The Argos recovered a fumble in the red zone, killing off a scoring chance for the Wolves (2-1, 1-1 GSC).
At the 6:09 mark of the first quarter, C.J. Wilson scored the first of his two opening quarter touchdowns on a 1-yard run.
The Wolves answered with a fumble recovery for a touchdown with 2:15 remaining before Wilson scored again less than a minute later as UWF took the lead for good at 14-7.
Caden Leggett and Jiles both caught touchdown passes in the second on a night when Jarrett completed 20 of his 27 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Nine players caught at least one pass, with Jiles catching eight passes for 175 yards.
Jarrett said that connection with his receivers, particularly Jiles, was forged before the season began.
“A lot of hours in the summer,” Jarrett said. “We’d be out there every day after practice. We have trust. We’re on the same page, and when you do that, good things happen with him and the rest of the receivers.”
The Argos, who led 35-7 at the half, rolled up 479 yards, hitting the 400-plus yard mark for the third time in 2023, while allowing 305. UWF’s defense stayed relentless, and Ralph Ortiz came up with a pick six with 8:35 left in the half.
Ortiz said there was added motivation from the way the FAMU game went last week. UWF gave up 28 second-half points.
“We talked about the bad ending to the FAMU game. We had to prove ourselves,” Ortiz said. “We had to come out firing, step our foot on the gas and continue the whole game. That’s what we came to do. Our defense was firing on all cylinders.”
The win marked the first time in the history of this series against the Wolves that the home team has won. The Argos, the reigning co-champs of the GSC, have won two in a row against West Georgia, which is going Division I in 2024.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to be at our best, whatever (uniforms) we’re wearing, whoever we’re playing, or whatever location, turf, grass, I don’t care,” Nobles said. We just want to play at a high level. It doesn’t matter who is across the line from us.”