In the midst of Florida’s 10-9 victory over SEC East rival Tennessee this past weekend, another controversial play went in favor of the Gators.

Here’s the play below:

Thanks to a no-call by the officials, the Gators were able to convert a crucial 49-yard field goal to pull ahead of the Vols with just a few minutes remaining in the half. Florida’s other SEC win against Kentucky was also aided by a no-call when Florida appeared to snap the ball on a game-tying play in overtime after the play clock had hit zero.

Contrary to the Gators’ play against Kentucky, it appears this one may be more egregious because there seems to be no movement by the snapper’s hands until after the clock hits zero.  The delay of game penalty would have negated Austin Hardin’s 49-yard field goal and forced him to attempt it from a much more intimidating distance of 54 yards. Given Hardin’s kicking struggles, it’s easy to believe that the extra five yards would have made a significant difference.

Even head coach Will Muschamp thought the late snap by his team would draw a delay of game penalty.

“A great kick by Austin Hardin. I thought we were going to get a delay of game, right?,” Muschamp said after the game. “But we didn’t. We got it off in time and we have a lot of confidence in him.”

The no-call turned out to be a huge swing in the game. Hardin hits the field goal, Gators take the lead and never look back, holding the Vols in the latter portions of the fourth quarter to preserve their one-point lead.

Outside of the controversy, the field goal conversion by Hardin should be an encouraging sign for the Gators and their fans. Coming into college, Hardin was the No. 1 rated kicker and an Under Armour All-American. However, his college career has done anything but pan out. He hadn’t made a single kick over 40 yards and had missed several kicks in a row, including a potential game-winner against Kentucky a few weeks ago. Hardin always had a strong leg, but the accuracy was lacking.

Now that Hardin can hang his hat on a this kick against Tennessee, perhaps it’s the play he needed to get his confidence back. For Florida, they’ve balanced the kicking duties between a short-yardage kicker Frankie Velez and Hardin, who primarily handles kickoffs and long field goal attempts.

The development of Hardin as a reliable long-yardage kicker, who is looking to put a tumultuous 2013 season behind him, could be crucial for the Gators if they’re to make a run in the SEC East. Plays like Hardin’s 49-yard field goal in a high-pressure situation may be the beginning of the kicker Florida fans envisioned from the strong-legged prospect when he arrived to campus back in 2012.