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Texas A&M-Commerce beats West Florida to win first DII football championship in school history

A fourth quarter touchdown sealed it.

Texas A&M-Commerce won its first DII title in school history on Saturday night with a 37-27 victory over West Florida in Kansas City. With the win, the Lions’ finished the year 14-1, capped off with a strong showing in the title game in Kansas City.

West Florida made several attempts to come back from behind throughout, but the Lions offense kept managing to put the Argonauts away. A&M-Commerce quarterback Luis Perez had a great night, throwing for 323 yards and two touchdowns, along with a 40-yard bomb. He set a DII postseason record for passing yards, too.

Getting to the title game for West Florida, led by head coach Pete Shinnick, is huge for this program that’s been playing for only two seasons. The Argonauts finished 11-4, and defeated the No. 1 seeded Indiana (PA) team in the national semifinal last week. The outcome against the Lions obviously wasn’t intended, but they had a great year and were competitive till the end.

Fourth quarter

West Florida makes it a 10-point game on a three-yard touchdown run from Argonauts running back Chris Schwartz. West Florida attempted an onside kick after the score, but the Lions were able to recover it. A&M-Commerce scored a field goal in the middle of the quarter to take a commanding lead.

Third quarter

A&M-Commerce receiver Marquise Wimberly caught a 40-yard pass from quarterback Luis Perez to go up two scores. The throw and catch were a beaut.

West Florida made it a one-score game with a 47-yard field goal from kicker Austin Williams that made it 27-20 A&M-Commerce. The Lions took a 10-point lead on a touchdown run from freshman running back E.J. Thompson with 6:08 left in the quarter. West Florida recovered an A&M fumble deep in their own territory, which set up an Austin Williams field goal to pull within three.

Halftime

Texas A&M-Commerce leads 20-14 at the half.

Second quarter

West Florida was able to get on the board with a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Beaudry to Antoine Griffin to make it 20-14 with less than a minute left. A Texas A&M-Commerce field goal gave the Lions a 20-7 lead with 8:51 to go. The Lions had a 29-yard field goal made it 17-7.

First quarter

The Lions took a 14-7 lead on a kickoff that was returned for a touchdown by Reggie Kincade. West Florida scored a 1-yard touchdown run to tie things up at 7, but the Lions struck first with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Luis Perez to take a 7-0 lead early.

Pregame

A 28-team bracket has been whittled down to its final pair, and from there, a national champion will emerge. The Division II title game takes place Saturday night, where two quasi-Cinderellas will battle for the right to claim their first NCAA Championship.

West Florida and Texas A&M-Commerce weren’t supposed to get this far. The sixth-seeded Argonauts’ path to the national title game ran through a pair of No. 1 seeds (West Alabama, Indiana [Pa.]) before arriving in Kansas City. The Lions, a five seed despite running through the regular season with only one loss, played their first three games of the NCAA Division II Football Tournament as an underdog before toppling Harding in the bracket’s semifinal.

Now, these two Davids-turned-Goliaths will meet on Saturday night with a national championship on the line. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 (live stream).

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • Location: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan.
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Odds: N/A

Texas A&M-Commerce vs. West Florida news:

UWF basketball has moved its Saturday games vs. West Alabama up to 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. The games will be played at the UWF Field House. The women's contest will be played at 2:00 p.m. and the men's contest at 4:00 p.m.

Led by the Ron Lenz Offensive Player of the Year, Texas A&M University-Commerce has two football players on the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) All-American First Team, as announced Wednesday morning. Quarterback Luis Perez was named the Ron Lenz Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-American quarterback, while left tackle Jared Machorro was named first team All-American.

The Argonauts couldn’t slow down Division II’s most prolific passer.

Perez has made a strong case as the nation’s top player outside Division I. With 4,999 passing yards and 46 touchdowns, he’s been an unstoppable weapon for one of the NCAA’s hottest teams.