Defense came at a premium on Saturday at Kyle Field, especially through the first half, and Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson generated enough offense to lift the Gators to a 41-24 victory over Jimbo Fisher’s struggling Texas A&M team.

Fisher entered the game with a career 8-1 record vs. the Gators. He left the field in real danger of not qualifying for a bowl game.

The Aggies were dealing with a flu outbreak that hit hard the defensive side, while Florida was playing its first game without Brenton Cox, Jr., the team leader in tackles for loss (8). Cox was dismissed from the team last week.

The Gators improved to 5-4 (2-4 in the SEC) and are within 1 victory of becoming bowl eligible in the first-year under head coach Billy Napier. Games against South Carolina, at Vanderbilt, and at Florida State remain.

Texas A&M fell to 3-6 (1-5 in SEC) and must win all 3 remaining games just to reach the .500 mark and become bowl eligible in Fisher’s 5th season. The Aggies have games at Auburn, and at home vs. UMass and LSU. The Aggies have lost 5 straight games for the first time since 1980.

Richardson was effective through the air, but the Gators did most of their damage on the ground, rushing for a season-high 292 yards.

Richardson threw 3rd-quarter TD passes of 19 and 12 yards to Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Caleb Douglas, respectively, to overcome a 24-20 halftime deficit and give the Gators a 34-24 advantage heading into the final period.

That’s when Florida put together a couple of rare defensive plays to put the game out of reach. Princely Umanmielen strip-sacked Aggies quarterback Haynes King, and Lloyd Summerall III recovered at the Florida 36, preventing Texas A&M from making it a 1-score game. Then Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. did the same, sacking King and forcing a fumble that he recovered at the Aggies’ 29. But the Gators failed to capitalize on a 4th-and-goal run at the 2.

King was playing for Aggies’ starting quarterback Conner Weigman, one of many players out with the flu.

The first 7 possessions of the game ended in points.

The Gators got on the scoreboard first. Kicker Adam Mihalek capped Florida’s initial drive of the game with a 50-yard field goal.

Florida has now scored in an NCAA record 432 consecutive games, dating to 1988 – 57 games longer than any other team in college football history.

Texas A&M’s Devon Achane answered with 1 of his 3 first-half touchdowns. His 65-yard run set up Achanes’ first score, a 5-yard touchdown run.

Florida came right back to regain the lead, 10-7, on an 8-play, 75-yard drive, slicing through the depleted Aggies’ defense with ease. Richardson put the Gators in front with a 10-yard TD run.

Achane answered again, putting the Aggies back in front, 14-10. This time it was a 5-yard TD pass reception from King.

But there was still time left on the 1st-quarter clock for Richardson to race 60 yards for his 2nd TD of the initial period, and Florida took a 17-14 lead into the 2nd quarter.

The see-saw ride continued into the 2nd quarter with Texas A&M driving for a Randy Bond 24-yard field goal and a 17-17 tie, and Florida equaling that output with Mihalek’s own 24-yard field goal to give the Gators a 20-17 advantage.

Fittingly, it was Achane who completed the first-half fireworks. He capped a 6-play, 74-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to give the Aggies a 24-20 lead at halftime.