By Dory LeBlanc
After starting the season 4-1, the Florida Gators lost five in a row, including last week's near upset of South Carolina.
Florida had to win their final two games of the campaign to extend their Bowl streak to 23 and avoid their first losing season since 1979.
The Gators will not get a bowl invite this year, after falling to Gerogia Southern 26-20 Saturday in Gainesville.
On the opening drive, RB Kelvin Taylor (son of Gator great Fred) picked up 54 of Florida's 63 yards on the scoring drive that netted the Gators three points for the early lead.
The defense forced Georgia Southern, who UF has faced only twice - coming away with a win in both meetings, to punt, but the snap was fumbled and Solomon Patton stopped the punter, forcing another fumble. Florida took over at GSU's 34, but the drive stalled and Frankie Velez's field goal attempt was blocked.
Nursing a 3-0 lead, the Gators forced a fumble, recovering the ball inside GSU's 20. Five plays later, Skyler Mornhiweg threw his first career touchdown on a three-yard pass to Patton, who leads the team with five TD receptions this season.
Florida had more bad news on the injury front. Starting LB Michael Taylor, who was one of the most productive defenseman for the Gators Saturday, was lost in the second quarter with a knee injury.
On the next Eagles drive, GSU was able to pull within three after a 45-yard touchdown run by Keith Ellison with 2:01 left to go in the first half.
Georgia Southern scored again on the opening possession of the second half, after gaining 66 yards on the first play of the drive, and converting a fourth-and-inches at the goalline to go up 14-10 with 2:36 off the clock in the third quarter.
The Gators had no answer to stop the Eagles' triple option, and with M. Taylor in street clothes in the second half, Georgia Southern continued to run the ball all over Florida Field, without completing a single pass.
William Banks extended the Eagles' lead to 20-10 on a four-yard run as the third quarter was closing, but Frankie Velez added three more for Florida to make it a one-score game, 20-13, in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Mornhinweg looked downright awful throughout the game, with only 27 passing yards until tossing a 45-yard touchdown pass to Patton, the second time in two games the freshman attempted a pass beyond 20 yards.
With the game tied at 20, Georgia Southern eclipsed 400 yards rushing on the day on William Banks' 14-yard TD run, but for the second time in the contest, the Eagles missed the PAT and led by only a touchdown.
The Gators got the ball with a little over two minutes remaining in the ballgame, but a personal foul penalty negated promising field position, sending Florida back to the 36 from the 49.
Mornhinweg and Co. just couldn't get anything together on offense, and coupled with bizarre clock management, the Gators fell to Georgia Southern, the first FCS school to beat the Florida Gators in the program's history.
Next up: The Gators host the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles next Saturday, November 30th at Ben Hill Griffn Stadium in Gainesville.