Rapid Reaction: Gators' goal-line stop clinches SEC East in dramatic fashion
It all came down to the final play, because with all the drama, how else was the game supposed to end?
Derrius Guice, who said “Florida couldn’t run no more” couldn’t get one last yard to score the tying touchdown on the final play of the game.
Florida locks up a spot in Atlanta with a thrilling 16-10 victory in Baton Rouge.
What it means
Florida locks up the SEC East with an upset victory in Death Valley. LSU drops its fourth game of the season, hurting its postseason outlook and Ed Orgeron’s chance of getting the full-time head coaching job.
What I liked
LSU: The Tigers saw an opportunity to run on Florida’s banged-up defense and called the game accordingly.
To open the second half, LSU’s offensive line dominated up front. Danny Etling had extra time to find Colin Jeter for a first down before hitting Malachi Dupre for 33 yards to move to the UF 24-yard line.
In the first half, following Guice’s fumble deep in the red zone, the Tigers forced a three-and-out to get the ball back in good field position and keep points off the board.
Florida: Despite only 60 yards of total offense, Florida’s defense and special teams kept it in the game, down only 7-3 at the half. The defense particularly tightened up in the second quarter as the teams traded punts before the half.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier decided to ride the momentum after LSU’s botched field goal, calling for Austin Appleby to launch one deep to Tyrie Cleveland. The freshman wideout got a step on LSU DB Donte Jackson to haul it in, and he shook the tackle to go 98 yards and give Florida a 10-7 lead.
The Gators’ defense is rarely labeled bend but don’t break, but they made their biggest stops when the Tigers threatened to score. In five trips to the red zone, LSU had only 10 points to show for it.
What I didn’t like
LSU: Guice’s fumble ended a 63-yard, 5:45 drive that could have given the Tigers some breathing room and put the Gators on the ropes. It wasn’t the only time LSU moved the ball well but had nothing to show for it.
In the third quarter, the Tigers again were deep in the red zone when Etling got popped by Florida LB Vosean Joseph, and DT Caleb Brantley brought down Leonard Fournette for a loss. Ed Orgeron looked like he was playing it safe with the field goal, but it was botched and the score remained 7-3, but not for long. On the next play, Florida went 98 yards for a touchdown to take the lead.
Florida: The Gators couldn’t capitalize when they had opportunities to change the momentum of the game in the first half. When Guice fumbled inside the UF 10-yard line, the Gators recovered but went three-and-out on offense. Later in the second quarter, LB David Reese had a golden opportunity for a pick-six but couldn’t come up with the interception. With 1:01 left before the half, Florida only moved the ball two yards on a head-scratching short pass.
Up 10-7, the offense was moving the ball with Jordan Scarlett running the ball. On 2nd-and-3, the Gators tried a pass and Appleby threw it away. On 3rd-and-3, the Gators tried a screen that was deflected. Scarlett had run for 37 yards on four carries, a questionable time to go away from the run.
Again, with Scarlett mowing through the LSU defense, Nussmeier got cute, calling a fake to the fullback and a pitch to Lamical Perine. The pitch resulted in a fumble, and Florida had to kick a field goal going up only 13-10.
Florida’s defense came up with its biggest stop of the season, keeping Guice out of the end zone on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line on the last play of the contest.
The Tigers look to bounce back against Texas A&M in College Station. Before the SEC Championship Game, the Gators have a big game in Tallahassee against Florida State.