Gators Ground Game & Takeways Lead To Win Over LSU

GAINESVILLE-- The 22nd ranked Florida Gators (5-1) rushed for 215 yards & forced three turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown, leading to their 27-19 win over the previously undefeated fifth-ranked LSU Tigers (5-1).

The Gators won the opening toss & decided to defer.  And the Tigers wasted little time in jumping out in front.  Helped by a 38 yard completion from quarterback Joe Burrow to wide receiver Justin Jefferson on the first play from scrimmage, the Tigers 10 play 75 yard opening drive ended with a four yard touchdown run by running back Nick Brossette.  

Florida took the next possession after the touchdown & managed to get one first down but were forced to punt after that.  Fortunately for the Gators. their defense forced the first turnover of the game.  With the Tigers driving into Gators territory, Head Coach Ed Orgeron decided to pass on first down but with Burrow scrambling to his right away from the pocket, the Tigers quarterback was stripped from behind by Gators defensive end Jachai Polite.  That fumble was recovered by Gators defensive tackle Kyree Campbell.

Florida was unable to move the ball after the turnover going three & out.  Through the end of the first quarter, neither team's offense was able to get a first down.  And first quarter ended with the Tigers recording eight first downs & 104 yards.  While the Gators got just two first downs & 48 yards.

At the start of the second quarter, Florida continued their drive & that 9 play 43 yard drive ended with running back Lamical Perine one yard rushing touchdown to tie the score at seven.  Perine rushed for 26 yards on the scoring drive.

With the score tied at seven, LSU got the ball back & got two first downs on their next drive but facing a fourth & two at the Gators 42 yard line, the Tigers offense stayed on the field, attempting to draw the Gators off-sides but were unable to do so.  After the five yard delay of game penalty on LSU, Florida got the ball back deep in their own territory.  But after getting one first down on a 11 yard run by running back Jordan Scarlett, the Gators were forced to give the ball back to the Tigers.  And the Tigers took a three point lead when kicker Cole Tracy ended a 10 play 63 yard drive with a 33 yard field goal.  The key play on the Tigers drive was a 21 yard run by Burrow on a third & one.

Trailing 10-7 & after a 23 yard run by Perine got the Gators in Tigers territory, Florida got a 35 yard completion from Franks to wide receiver Josh Hammond that put the Gators on the three yard line.  And on the next play, quarterback Feleipe Franks gave the Gators their first lead when he hit tight end Moral Stephens for a three yard touchdown pass, capping a seven play 75 yard drive.

Florida took that 14-10 lead into the half & started the second half with the football.  And on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Franks hit Hammond again, this time for 49 yards.  And because of a penalty on LSU on the same play, Florida next play started at the LSU 13 yard line.  But on the second play of the half, Franks threw a pass into the endzone that was picked off by Tigers safety Grant Delpit. 

The Tigers were able to record one first down after the interception but were not able to get anything else going.  LSU did force Florida to two straight three & outs before cutting the deficit to one when Tracy hit his 2nd field goal on the game, this one from 42 yards out.  

Florida, leading 14-13, started the fourth quarter with the football & drove the ball into LSU territory.  But the Gators punted the ball away & on first down, Brossette rushed up the left side for 31 yards.  And after an incomplete pass by Burrow, Brossette broke off a 47 yard run.  That run was followed by a Gators penalty & on the next play, Brossette went up the middle for a one yard touchdown run.  LSU failed on the two point conversion, making the score 19-14.

On the next drive, after an incomplete pass, Franks hooked up with wide receiver Van Jefferson for a 26 yard completion.  And after incomplete pass, Perine got into the action with 17 yard run.  

Two plays later on third & seven, Franks scrambled 12 yards for the first down.  And on the next, the Gators went into their bag of tricks.  The play started with Franks handing the ball off to tight end Lucas Krull.  Krull ran to the left, stopped & threw a pass down the right side to a wide open Franks, who made the catch & took the ball to the two yard line.  From there, Perine finshed off the 9 play 75 yard drive with a two yard touchdown run, his second of the game.  

Like LSU, Florida attempted & failed on the two point conversion.  And trailing by one, LSU was able to get into Florida territory but not close enough to attempt a lead-changing field goal.  So LSU punted the ball away & although Florida was pinned inside their own five, the Gators were able to pick up two first downs, which moved the ball away from their endzone.  

Gators punter Tommy Townsend unleashed a 61 yard punt, putting the Tigers on their own 12 yard line.  And three plays later, Burrow did something he hadn't done in his whole college career. Burrow entered game having thrown 170 passes without an interception.  But facing third & four from the LSU 18 yard line, Burrow was picked off by cornerback Brad Stewart, who ran up the right side & into the endzone for the pick six.

With the score 27-19 & under two minutes left in the game, Burrow was forced to throw again.  And the Tigers were able to move the ball onto the other side of the 50 but on a fourth down play with under 30 seconds left in the game, Burrow was picked off again to seal the Gators victory.

Next up for the Gators is road trip to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on Saturday at noon.  Coverage begins on 620 WDAE at 9AM.

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