Rapid Reaction: Florida falls short against FSU in back-and-forth rivalry shootout
Florida wrapped up the first regular season of the Billy Napier era 0-4 against rivals. The Gators fell 45-38 at Florida State in a back-and-forth shootout in Tallahassee.
FSU led by as many as 14 points (38-24), but it was a tie ball game with 7:41 to go in the 4th quarter. Florida’s defense didn’t show any juice from the offensive rally, allowing the Seminoles to go 65 yards on 7 plays and take a 45-38 lead.
UF’s final possession started with 4:06 left on the clock. A 4th-and-18 pass interference call kept the Gators alive one time. On 4th-and-12 with 46 seconds left, FSU brought pressure and Richardson threw up a deep ball prayer that fell incomplete. The Seminoles got away with a facemask on the play.
For the Gators, it was all about a disastrous third quarter that went 17-0 in FSU’s favor.
Florida grabbed a 24-21 lead in the final minute before the end of the first half but Florida State seized momentum in the 3rd quarter. The Gators’ first 3 drives of the 2nd half were 3-and-outs that drained the defense.
FSU’s first possession of the 3rd quarter was a 14-play, 52-yard drive to tie it up 24-24. The Seminoles went 66 yards on 8 plays to go up 31-24 with 4:21 left in the 3rd quarter. Florida State made it 17 straight points, going 44 yards on just 2 plays to extend the lead to 38-24 with the extra point.
It was an ugly night for fans of passing offense as both quarterbacks struggled. FSU’s Jordan Travis made more big throws, especially in the second half. Travis finished 13-of-30 passing for 270 yards and a touchdown.
FSU scored 5 of its touchdowns on the ground. Trey Benson led the way with over 100 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Travis had numerous highlight runs, including 2 TDs.
Anthony Richardson started the game 5-of-7 for 151 yards and 3 touchdowns. During the 3rd quarter unraveling, he had 11 consecutive incompletions. Richardson finished 9-of-27 passing for 198 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.
UF’s run game was again led by Trevor Etienne (17 carries, 129 yards, TD) and Montrell Johnson Jr. (17 carries, 85 yards, TD). The Gators notably went away from the run during the string of 3rd-quarter 3-and-outs.
Florida will still go bowling at 6-6, but heads into the postseason with back-to-back road losses to Vanderbilt and Florida State. It was a particularly rough year in rivalry games with losses to Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and FSU.