Rapid Reaction: Florida outlasts Florida State to extend rivalry streak, earn bowl eligibility
In a battle for bowl eligibility, Florida topped in-state rival Florida State 24-21 in The Swamp. The Gators will go bowling with a 6-6 mark in 2021 while extending the streak to 3 wins in a row over the Seminoles.
It all came down to a failed onside kick attempt. FSU cut it to 24-21 with 49 seconds left. The Noles tried an onside kick, but failed to actually kick the ball, resulting in an illegal touch before the ball went 10 yards.
Both teams played multiple quarterbacks on Saturday. Florida scored on the opening drive of the game, going on 75 yards on 9 plays. Emory Jones hit tight end Kemore Gamble on a 47-yard pass for the opening touchdown.
Florida State played 3 quarterbacks in the game. Starter Jordan Travis was injured early in the first quarter. Travis was replaced by McKenzie Milton, who threw an interception late in the first quarter. After Milton’s interception, third-stringer Tate Rodemaker got in the game. Travis returned in the second quarter and led a 7-play, 68-yard scoring drive to tie it up 7-7.
Jones, who was reportedly injured in practice earlier in the week, made the start at QB for Florida. Redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson converted a third down on the first possession but came up limping. Jones had a 3-interception first half. Jones returned at QB to start the second half, but Richardson came in on 3rd down of Florida’s first possession of the third quarter. Richardson finished the game 5-of-7 passing for 55 yards, a touchdown and, most importantly, no turnovers.
Changing quarterbacks plus hard running from Dameon Pierce (12 carries, 62 yards, TD) helped the Florida offense pull away in the second half. Pierce’s toughness was perfectly exemplified on a run where he reached the end zone despite losing his helmet. Pierce was actually flagged on the play for continuing to participate without his helmet, a rule meant to protect players. Fortunately, Pierce got his TD when the Gators went for it on 4th-and-goal.
Dameon Pierce is a BEAST pic.twitter.com/yfNoyBweq8
— libgator (@lib_gator) November 27, 2021
Dameon Pierce with the TD run to put the Gators up 24-7 with 12:36 left in the game. pic.twitter.com/3uJLLsQSk4
— Allen Barney (@allenj_b) November 27, 2021
The extra point made it a 24-7 Florida lead. FSU answered to cut it to 24-14 at the 9:46 mark. Facing 4th-and-short, interim UF head coach Greg Knox opted to have Florida punt to FSU with 3:55 left. The Seminoles scored with 49 seconds left to make it 24-21.
Brenton Cox entered Saturday with 3 sacks on the season. He more than doubled his 2021 total by sacking the Seminoles 4 times.