VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
VIDEO: Temoris Coats Interview
VIDEO: Antonio Wimbush Interview
PENSACOLA, Fla. – No. 2 West Florida (1-0) held No. 22 Carson-Newman (0-1) to just 69 yards of total offense after halftime, while scoring 13 unanswered to down the Eagles 19-9 Thursday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Carson-Newman outgained the defending national runners-up by 15 yards, but the Argos were able to finish more drives. Carson-Newman had a quartet of possessions that each covered at least eight plays and 40 yards. The Eagles scored three points across those four drives.
"I think the number one thing there is to finish better, I know that's a cliche but to finish drives better," head coach Mike Turner said. "I think you have to finish your assignments, you know, we were this close a couple of times on holding a block, making sure of a pitch and you just simply have to take care of the football, that's part of offensive football. We had two turnovers, I think, and both of those could've been touchdowns.
West Florida had the lead at the end of one in spite of the Eagles outgaining the Argos nearly 4:1. The Argos got the party started with a pair of Austin Williams field goals. The first one was set up by an Eagle fumble on the third play of the game.
West Florida took over at Carson-Newman's four, but was whistled for three procedure penalties. After negative 14 yards, Williams booted through a 35-yard field goal.
The Argos induced a three-and-out to get good field position on their next possession. They capped an eight-play drive that covered 32 yards with a 39-yard field goal from Williams.
Carson-Newman lost another fumble in the opening quarter too, but the Eagles defense thwarted the Argos.
"We've got plenty to work on, plenty to get better at. I don't have any doubt that those kids will come back and respond that way," Turner said. "I have no doubt about that and I still think there is great things in store for this football team."
Carson-Newman finally broke through in the second quarter. After a West Florida punt pinned the Eagles at their own 15, C-N went to an quicker tempo and it paid off.
On the fourth play of the drive, Sherron Jackson (Miami, Fla.) broke away for a 68-yard draw. However, Drew Eudy (Hendersonville, N.C.) pushed the PAT wide to the left to leave the game tied with 12:26 to play in the second.
West Florida appeared poised to counter the next possession, marching inside the Eagles' red zone. However, Carson-Newman's d-line batted a Sam Vaughn pass into the air and Desmond Fairell (Miami, Fla.) jumped in front of it at the goal line for his ninth career interception.
The subsequent drive featured two chunk yardage plays from Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) and Jacakson before stalling. Eudy connected on a 35-yard field goal, giving the Eagles their first and only lead of the night at 9-6.
Following the break, the momentum fell to the Argos. West Florida put together an 11-play, 76 yard drive to retake the lead with a Vaughn four-yard pass up the middle to Lee Walker for one of his two looks on the night, pushing the Argos out to a 13-9 lead.
Williams netted a couple more field goals in the fourth to seal the deal for the Argos.
Carson-Newman put together one substantial drive in the second half, which featured just four C-N possessions. A 10-play, 45-yard drive for the Eagles stalled out just shy of Eudy's field goal range and ended in a punt from the West Florida 35.
Aside from that one possession, the Eagles' three other second half drives covered 13 plays and 17 yards.
Even with the slow second half, the Eagles' ground game did what it normally does. C-N rushed for 330 yards on 55 carries, 6.0 yards per tote.
Carson-Newman became the first team to ever rush for more than 250 yards, let along 300, in the Argos brief three-year history.
Jackson led the Eagles' rushing attack in terms of yardage, with 109 yards on two carries. He had a decent 54.5 yards per carry average.
Wimbush went for 96 yards on 12 touches, while Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) had 89 yards on 18 carries.
Georgia transfer Sam Vaughn led the West Florida offensive attack. The quarterback was 17-for-29 through the air for 218 yards and a score. Ishmel Morrow was his top target with five catches for 45 yards.
Chris Schwarz led all Argo rushers with 43 yards. UWF averaged 2.8 yards per carry as a team.
The Eagles return to action Sept. 8 at Virginia Union. Kickoff with the Panthers is set for 1 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at noon with the AEC Tailgate Show on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.