McKINNEY, Texas — Austin Reed broke the NCAA Division II championship game record for yards passing before halftime, throwing for 399 of his 523 yards in West Florida's 48-40 victory over Minnesota State on Saturday in a matchup of teams seeking a first title.
Reed had to wait until the second half to break the record for touchdown passes, finishing with six after the redshirt freshman tied the previous mark with five in the first half.
Three of the scores went to Navarre High alumnus Quentin Randolph, who ended up 16 yards short of the title game record with 254 yards receiving. Reed broke the previous title-game mark of 361 yards passing on a 48-yard touchdown to Randolph for a 38-21 lead with 18 seconds left in the first half.
West Florida (13-2) had already become the first team to beat three undefeated teams in the same Division II postseason before making Minnesota State (14-1) the fourth.
The Argonauts ended defending champ Valdosta State's 25-game winning streak in the second round, Lenoir-Rhyne's 15-game home winning streak in the quarterfinals and 2018 finalist Ferris State's 14-win run at home in the semifinals.
West Florida, the first NCAA football team to reach the postseason twice in its first four years of existence, improved to 9-1 in the playoffs. The Argonauts lost to Texas A&M-Commerce in the 2017 championship game.
It was also the second title game appearance for the Mavericks, who entered the game with the top scoring offense in Division II and the No. 2 scoring defense but were trumped on both counts.
Ryan Schlichte threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, the second followed by a 2-point conversion pass that got Minnesota State within eight with 4:03 remaining.
The Mavericks drove to the West Florida 18 in the final minute, but Schlichte's fourth-down pass to top receiver Shane Zylstra was broken up.
The surge led by Reed, who was 33 of 54 passing, took away Minnesota State's biggest threat in running back Nate Gunn, although an injury appeared to sideline the team's leading rusher with the Mavericks also forced to pass after halftime.
Gunn came in with 1,611 yards and 29 touchdowns but finished with 19 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The senior had just two carries in the second half.
Down 17 on the opening possession of the third quarter, Minnesota State lost a fumble by Gunn inside the West Florida 10. After sacking Reed at the 1 on third down, the Mavericks gave the ball right back when Justin Arnold muffed the punt near midfield. Reed's sixth TD pass soon followed.
West Florida's Tate Lehtio and Arnold finished with 13 catches apiece to break the championship game record of 11. Lehtio has 139 yards and a touchdown.
Arnold had 154 yards and a score while Zylstra finished with 11 catches for 145 yards and a TD for Minnesota State. The Mavericks lost to Colorado State-Pueblo in the 2014 title game.