FLORIDA SEASON RECAP
Donovan Sinter’s game-sealing safety blitz.
Florida had a much taller order the following Saturday against fifthranked
LSU. Another perfectly-timed trick play, coupled with a breakout
performance from ferocious pass-rusher Jachai Polite, who had two sacks
for a second consecutive game (and added a game-changing forced fumble),
as well as a raucous crowd of over 90,000, the Gators pulled the upset.
UF amassed five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and snared two interceptions,
with Brad Stewart, Jr.’s 25-yard pick-six sending the crowd into a frenzy and
sealing the 27-19 victory with less than two minutes to play.
Next, the Gators overcame a 21-3 deficit at Vanderbilt, busting out for 576
total yards to overcome an error-filled first half in a 37-27 win.
All eyes were on the Gators following a bye week, as College GameDay
and SEC Nation traveled to Jacksonville for the latest installment in the
Florida-Georgia rivalry. The seventh-ranked Bulldogs proved to be too much
for the Gators, who led 14-13 following Franks’ perfect strike to Swain for a
36-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the second half.
“It probably was our worst execution performance of the year, and I am
really disappointed in that,” Mullen said of the 36-17 loss, which saw Florida
gift Georgia scoring opportunities on two fumbles and an interception.
The Gators could not rebound in time against a scrappy Missouri team,
which piled up nearly 500 yards of offense to pick up their first SEC win, a
decisive 38-17 blowout.
Things were primed to get worse the next Saturday, as South Carolina led
Florida, 31-14, with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Gators woke up in time, though, and running backs Lamical Perine and
Jordan Scarlett helped them total 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns on
23 carries in the fourth quarter, spurring a 35-31 comeback victory.
“We were going to fight until the last quarter, until the game ended,” said
star defensive back CJ Henderson.
After a 63-10 start-to-finish demolition of Idaho, Florida entered its annual
matchup with Florida State looking to seal a New Year’s Six bid and spoil its
in-state rival’s streak of 36 consecutive bowl appearances.
The Gators completed their season-long transformation—which truly
started after their loss to what turned out to be an impressive Kentucky
team—with an emphatic 41-14 victory in Tallahassee. Even sweeter?
Florida amassed more than 500 yards for a third straight game and salted
the win away with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“We just had to literally come together as a team,” Scarlett said. “This is
almost the same team as last year … new coaching staff. These guys came
in here and instilled a great thing in us. They taught us how to play football
well, just be a first-class team, and that’s what we did.”
C’yontai Lewis, a senior and member of the team’s leadership council,
had an even stronger statement about where the Gators are heading into
the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
“We started off the Mullen era pretty good,” he said. “He turned the
whole program around.”
Dameon Pierce and Fred Johnson
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