Final: Florida 27, LSU 19
Gainesville, FL-The Swamp was sold out for the first time since 2015 as #22 Florida played host to the fifth ranked Tigers of LSU. Many wondered if the Gators had anything left in the tank after earning their first back to back wins on the road since 2012. But this year’s team thrives on being overlooked and second guessed.
For the second week in a row, the Gators entered the game as underdogs and the results remain the same. The offense is still growing but they’ve matured and improved with each passing week. The defense has been aggressive, violent, and greedy as they’ve taken the ball away from opponents 17 times this year and racked up 11 sacks in the last two weeks.
When the pressure is on, this team comes alive and the defense took advantage when they were given the opportunity to finish. Last week, Donovan Stiner ended the comeback effort with a fourth down sack that Nick Fitzgerald is still feeling. Tonight, he snatched just the second interception ever thrown by Joe Burrow on a last ditch fourth down effort.
1st Quarter: Florida 0 LSU 7
We’ll talk about Burrow’s first career interception in a moment. But first, let’s go back to the beginning. The Tigers received possession to start the game and from the onset, they looked like they were setting the tone. Burrow and company marched 75 yards down the field on a 10 play touchdown drive that appeared effortless.
On Florida’s first offensive go, they managed just a single first down before punting it away. It was on the next LSU drive where the Gators defense introduced themselves. Kyree Campbell fell on a fumble that was forced by a Jachai Polite sack. This would be a sign of things to come for Burrow as he would be harassed by the defensive onslaught all night.
Franks: 12/27, 161 YD 1 TD 1 INT
Krull: 1/1, 15 YD
Burrow: 19/34, 191 YD 0 TD 2 INT
2nd Quarter: Florida 14 LSU 3
The Gators began to find their rhythm and effectively moved the ball down the field using the option pitch to Lamical Perine. Perine eventually found his way into the endzone from 1 yard out. With the score tied at 7, the Gators began to play a little looser and the fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium made life miserable for the Bayou Bengals.
Despite the deafening crowd noise, the oppressive heat, and facing a defense that stifled most of the plays drawn up by LSU, the Tigers did find their way back into scoring position and after a Cole Tracy field goal, they regained the lead just before halftime. The Gators still had just over 3 minutes to work with.
After starting out 1 for 6 passing, Feleipe Franks got hot and completed 6 of his next 8 passes. One of those was a beautifully placed lob to the back corner of the endzone and the waiting arms of Moral Stephens. Stephens has hauled in touchdowns in each of his last two games. This one put Florida on top, 14-10 going into the break.
Stephens: 2 REC, 11 YD 1 TD
Hammond: 3 REC, 85 YD
Jefferson: 4 REC, 44 YD
Jefferson: 3 REC, 50 YD
Dillon: 4 REC, 42 YD
3rd Quarter: Florida 0 LSU 3
After electing to defer at the beginning of the game, Florida would go on offense to start the second half. They came right out of the gate with a playaction pass to Joshua Hammond that would go for 49 yards and a first down. The play also picked up a pair of penalties against LSU. The pass interference call was declined but Dan Mullen accepted the illegal hands to the face penalty.
With the additional 15 yards tacked on to the end of the play, the Gators found themselves with a first down on LSU’s 13 yard line. Attempting to go up by two scores, Mullen opted for a pass play into the endzone. Franks saw Stephens crossing near the goalline but was picked off by Grant Delpit instead.
The momentum was sucked out of the stadium and Florida struggled on offense through the rest of the third quarter. The Tigers, once again managed to get into field goal range and cut the lead to one late in the third.
Perine: 17 CAR, 85 YD 2 TD
Scarlett: 14 CAR, 65 YD
Franks: 6 CAR, 42 YD
Brossette: 15 CAR, 95 YD 2 TD
Edwards-Helaire: 13 CAR, 55 YD
4th Quarter: Florida 13 LSU 6
Both sides continued fighting back and forth, attempting to flip the field on the other each with some relative success. Nick Brossette suddenly provided a spark for LSU and their fans when he accounted for 75 yards on a single drive. He would cap that effort with his second touchdown of the night.
On top, 19-14, LSU elected to try for the two point conversion but Florida’s defense held fast. In what has become true form for this year’s Gators, they came through when their backs were against the wall. A great catch by Van Jefferson in double coverage moved the Gators into Tigers territory.
Perine muscled them a little deeper until they found themselves in the redzone. Then a little razzle dazzle. Franks handed the ball off to Lucas Krull who then completed a 15 yard pass to Franks down at the LSU 3 yard line. One play later, Perine had his second touchdown and gave the Gators the lead once again. Like LSU before them, Florida tried and failed to convert the two point conversion.
Florida’s defense stiffened and forced a punt with just over 6 minutes to play, giving their offense the ball on their own 3 yard line. Now it was gut check time. Jordan Scarlett went to work and did some of his best rushing of the game on this final possession.
The Gators managed to get a pair of first downs and drain 4 minutes off of the clock before punting the ball away. Tommy Townsend’s punt was his best of the night as he pinned the Tigers back on their own 12. Burrow had never thrown an interception in his collegiate career coming into this moment and he saw an opportunity to be the hero.
Many heroic efforts have fallen at the hands of DBU, though. It was almost poetic that Burrow would throw his first interception to the only player on Florida’s roster who is from the state of Louisiana. Brad Stewart, Jr. jumped the route and took the errant pass 25 yards for a Gators touchdown.
There was still time for LSU, however. Florida added a pair of sacks to force 4th and 19 and Burrow converted with a tight pass over the middle. Feeling pressure, though very little was actually applied, Burrow threw three consecutive incompletions to bring up 4th and 10. Stiner hauled in the second interception in as many possessions to seal the Florida victory.
This team has really embraced the culture that Dan Mullen has brought back to Gainesville. A win over a top 5 opponent is always worth celebrating but this team knows that come Monday, they must get back to work and prepare even harder than each of the previous weeks. But for now, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.
Time of Possession
East Standings Conference-Overall
Georgia 3-0 5-0
Kentucky 2-0 4-0
Florida 3-1 5-1
South Carolina 2-1 3-1
Mizzou 0-2 3-2
Vandy 0-1 3-2
Tennessee 0-2 2-3
*Some games may still be in progress
Florida takes on Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN. The game is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. EST. Broadcast information will be available later in the week. Be sure to follow the action on the ChompTalk.com Facebook and Twitter accounts too!