PENSACOLA — West Florida’s path to a second straight national championship appearance is about to get a whole lot more difficult.
Winners of four straight, the Argos, ranked 10th in coaches poll and fifth in the D2Football.com poll, host an undefeated West Georgia team at 6 p.m. Saturday in Blue Wahoos Stadium, pending the effects of Hurricane Michael. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 3, the ESPN app and ESPN Pensacola 94.5 FM.
UWF (5-1 overall, 4-0 Gulf South Conference) is 2-1 all-time against the Wolves, dropping a 69-0 contest in 2016 before winning two straight a year ago. The Argos escaped Carrollton, Georgia, with a 34-29 victory in their regular season finale, outscoring UWG 20-13 in the second half, and again two weeks later, scoring 10 unanswered in the fourth quarter to win 17-14 in the Super Region 2 semifinal.
Behind the play of quarterback Willie Candler, a prolific dual-threat player in the conference, the fourth-ranked Wolves (6-0, 4-0) have outscored opponents 240-93 this year and are coming off a dominant showing this past Saturday, handing North Greenville just its second loss of the season, 31-7. The Crusaders didn’t get on the board until midway through the fourth quarter.
Candler, the conference’s third-leading passer, got the scoring started with a 9-yard run late in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Candler, whose 65-percent completion percentage leads the conference, finished 20 of 30 for 211 yards with a passing touchdown and led the team in rushing with 84 yards on seven carries.
UWF quarterback Sam Vaughn has been prolific in his own right. After stepping in for Mike Beaudry, who injured his right foot in the Argos’ season opener against Carson-Newman, Vaughn has piloted an offense that averages 29.2 points per game and finds ways to win in crunch time, outscoring opponents 62-30 in the second half during its recent three-game road trip.
Vaughn ranks second in the conference with 1,579 passing yards, trailing Valdosta States’ Rogan Wells by just 16 yards, and he threw two touchdown passes this past weekend in a 24-19 victory against North Alabama, bringing his season total to 14. The win gave him four straight games with at least three touchdowns.