Two sides of the same coin: Blazers, Argos face off for GSC title

Juston Lewis | Valdosta Daily TimesHead coach Gary Goff reacts to officials during the Delta State win on Oct. 12.

VALDOSTA—For the second consecutive season, the Gulf South football championship will be decided at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. 

No. 1 Valdosta State (8-0, 6-0 GSC) and No. 20 West Florida (7-1, 7-0 GSC) will battle for a share of the conference title and to see who is the powerhouse of the conference. 

West Florida has been on a tear this season with notable wins over Delta State (48-3), West Georgia (30-2) and Florida Tech (38-14) and are undefeated through conference play. 

The Argo's only blemish came from a 20-13 road loss against Carson-Newman on the first Thursday of the season. 

West Florida averages 35.5 points per game and operate a balanced offensive attack with 19 passing and 18 rushing touchdowns this season. 

Defensively they’re only allowing 11 points per game and have kept opponents under three scores every contest. 

VSU sits atop the nation as the highest-ranked program in Division II. 

They’re averaging 40.63 points per game with 25 rushing and 18 passing touchdowns. They are commanded by Harlon Hill runner-up, Rogan Wells. Wells is the gift that keeps giving for the Blazers. 

He’s completed 74 percent of his passes this season and is nearing the 2,000 yards mark through the air and is the third leading rusher on the VSU's team with 512 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

The Blazers give up 16 points per game but have been hampered by injuries throughout the season. The unintentional motto for the year has been: “Bend don’t break.” The Blazers have shuffled through players but still have kept opponents at bay points this season. 

When the two teams clash, it’ll be quite the spectacle.

“It’s going to be a heavy weight fight—it really is,” VSU head coach Gary Goff said on Wednesday. “We’re very similar to each other.” 

The two teams have more in common than being atop the standings in the GSC.

Separate reports were released by the GSC on Thursday stating that each programs had violated NCAA policy during the early part of the season. Both teams unknowingly used players that were deemed ineligible by the NCAA and self-reported the offense.

Statements were released by both athletic directors and fines were issued as well as compliance reviews for the coaching staffs. 

Neither team was forced to vacate wins but the conference can still enforce more penalties if details arise about more offenses. 

With no current penalties or fines withstanding, the two teams will decide a portion of the Gulf South Conference crown at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium at 7 p.m.

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