Another week and another tough loss for Florida against an SEC West opponent. This was an exciting game that went down to the wire and had 5 lead changes. There were interceptions, fumbles, big hits, big plays and even a fake field goal. In the end LSU prevailed in the dying seconds despite a 4th wuarter rally where the Gators scored 15 points.
Florida was manhandled in the trenches in the first half and the offense was unable to get anything going during the first 2 quarters. John Brantley was severely harassed and hit hard as the Gator offense was again useless for long stretches of the game. The only reason the Gators were in the game at half was because of 2 short touchdown drives that were set up by turnovers. LSU drove the length of the field twice and forced a fumble late in the half to take a 20-14 lead going into the break. By halftime, Florida barely cracked the 100 yards of offense. Starting RB Jeff Demps never saw the field because of his injured foot, QB John Brantley was playing with cracked ribs and a reported sprained thumb, and the offensive line was leaking like the Titanic after the iceberg, right guard Jon Halapio was taken to the hospital with a hand injury. The prospect of running the table on the stout LSU defense was bleak.
The Gators came out of the break and drove the length of the field into the teeth of the defense, only to come out empty handed when punter turned kicker Chas Henry missed a field goal. The Gators fought valiantly to get back into a game that appeared lost when LSU took a 26-14 lead in the 4th quarter. Down by 12 with little over 14 minutes left in the game, the Gator offense finally woke up, or at least a few players did. On the ensuing kickoff, redshirt freshman Andre Debose took the kickoff 88 yards into the endzone to cut the deficit to 5. That was the long awaited big play from Debose that everyone in Gator nation was waiting for since the day he announced he would play for Florida. Later, in the go ahead drive that was set up by a defense stop, Debose would take a jet sweep for 10 yards and a crucial first down to keep the dream of the comeback alive. The key play on the go ahead drive was a 50 yard pass on 3rd down from Brantley to Carl Moore. The go ahead TD came thanks to a 5 yard run by RB Mike Gillislee with little over 3 minutes left. The Swamp was rocking as the Gators took the lead 29-26.
The joy would not last however. LSU managed to cross midfield quickly but then ran into a wall. Facing 4th and 3 from the 36, after a 2 yard loss on 3rd and 1, Les Miles sent out his kicking team to try to send the game into OT. Facing a 53 yard field goal, the Tigers opted for the fake. The execution was terrible, but the end result would suffice, first down at the Gator 32. The fake kick saw the holder toss the ball overhead behind him to the kicker who was hoping to take the toss and run, but the toss was errant and the ball hit the turf (it would later be reviewed because it was almost a forward pass), but fortunately for the Tigers the ball bounced straight into the hands of the oncoming kicker, who never broke stride, and he continued his run for the first down. If that ball had bounced any other way or height, the play would have been broken and the Gator D that was in pursuit would have made the stop well short of the first down marker.
The first down was a big play, but with only 30 seconds left and no timeouts, it was still an uphill climb for the Tigers. But on the very next play QB Lee passed to WR Toliver down the middle for 28 yard gain. That was the backbreaker. A big play when the Gator D only needed to play it safe and keep the WRs in front of them. LSU had no timeouts left, and we all know the troubles they have had with time management late in games. With that gain LSU had plenty of time to win the game. The winner would come on 3rd down with a fade pass into the endzone with only 6 seconds to play. Final score LSU 33 Florida 29. A heartbreaker for Florida fans, despite the late rally, Florida did not earn this win because they were totally outclassed in the first half.
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Written by The Gator Great