Jacksonville Sports Day

St. Augustine’s Reed Leads West Florida to Division II National Title

MCKINNEY, Texas – Redshirt freshman Austin Reed from St. Augustine had a record-setting performance and senior Quentin Randolph saved his best for last as 20th-ranked UWF defeated fourth-ranked Minnesota State, 48-40, for the program’s first Division II National Championship at McKinney ISD Stadium Saturday.

UWF (13-2) completed one of the most remarkable postseason runs in NCAA history, defeating three number one seeds and four-consecutive undefeated teams for the first time ever en route to the University’s 10th team national championship.

Reed finished with a school and NCAA Championship single-game record 523 passing yards and tied both organization marks with six passing touchdowns.

He was 33-of-54 on the day with his completions tying the finals mark and his attempts setting a new top effort. He had 399 yards by halftime to break the previous yardage mark of 361 which had stood since 2002.

With all that passing, Randolph and Lehtio were the beneficiaries. Randolph had 10 receptions for a school-record 254 yards and tied the championship game mark with three touchdowns.

Lehtio set the title game record with 13 catches for 139 yards and a score.

But for all the fireworks the Argonauts were putting up, MSU was keeping pace. UWF scored first and the teams traded touchdowns for the first five possessions of the game. That’s when the Argos forced the first of their three turnovers.

UWF converted a Nate Gunn fumble into an Austin Williams 31-yard field goal to go up 24-14. The teams again traded touchdowns before the Argos got a fourth down stop at the 1-yard line with 56 seconds left. Rather than run the ball and accept a 10-point lead, head coach Pete Shinnick dialed up a 37-yard strike to Ka’Ron Ashley, a 14-yard route to Lehtio before Randolph ran down a 48-yarder in the end zone to go up 38-21 at the break.

The Mavericks came out and drove inside the UWF five before Myles Meyer forced another Gunn fumble that the Argos recovered. But after a 3-and-out, they were forced to punt. Dawson Hamlin boomed a 55-yarder as he stood back deep in his own end zone and the third MSU fumble followed as Justin Arnold muffed the punt, giving the Argos possession at the MSU 40.

Seven plays later, Reed hit Lehtio on a slant from the eight to put UWF up 45-21 midway through the third.

MSU scored on a special teams miscue by the Argos a few minutes later and got within 45-29 after a 2-point conversion. UWF got three points back on a 30-yard Williams field goal at the start of the fourth for a 48-29 lead.

The Mavericks got a field goal of their own with 9:52 left and then pulled to within 48-40 on a Shane Zylstra touchdown with 4:03 to play.

UWf ran 1:51 off the clock on its next possession before MSU got the ball at he 20 following a Hamlin 59-yard touchback.

The Mavericks drove down to the UWF red zone in less than a minute before the Argos defense made the key stop. After a 2-yard run, Andre Duncombe, Jr. hurried Ryan Schlichte into an incompletion and followed it with a sack to set up fourth down.

Schlichte went to the All-American Zylstra but Marcus Clayton was there for the break-up to clinch the title for the Argos. It was his fourth break-up of the game to go along with six tackles. UWF ended the game with five sacks and seven tackles for loss.

MSU (14-1) finished with 562 yards of total offense – one more than UWF.

UWF was playing in it’s second NCAA Championship Game in four seasons of football. The team improved to 35-17 all-time after starting in 2016.

The Argonauts are 9-1 in NCAA postseason games and now own the highest winning percentage in D2 history among teams who have played a minimum of 10 playoff games.

The road to the title featured wins over No. 16 Wingate (38-17), No. 1 and defending national champion Valdosta State (38-35), No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne (43-38) and No. 2 Ferris State (28-14).

The wins over the Blazers, Bears and Bulldogs ended the three longest home field winning streaks in Division 2 and those victories, along with Saturday’s were all over teams that entered the game undefeated..

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