Blocked kick proved insurmountable


Published: Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 7:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 7:05 p.m.

For the second consecutive season, Florida has fallen to a western division opponent at home because of the kicking game.

Unlike Auburn’s last-second field goal in its 20-17 upset of the Gators last season, Mississippi blocked an extra point en route to its 31-30 shocker over UF.

Down 31-24 with 5:26 remaining in the game, UF drove the ball 68 yards on six plays and scored with 3:28 seconds left on a 15-yard run by junior receiver Percy Harvin.

After the initial celebration in the stands and on UF’s sideline, Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett shattered the Gators’ hopes for an undefeated season by blocking senior kicker Jonathan Phillips’ extra-point try.

“I expected it,” Kentrell said of the block. “When I crossed the line, I made it up in my mind I was going to get the block. In the gap, the guard didn’t step down and I took advantage of his mistake.”

However, UF coach Urban Meyer isn’t buying a blown assignment by one of his guys as the reason for the block.

Meyer said it looked as if Lockett hurdled another player to make the block. To Meyer, it wasn’t the first time it happened in the game and that he was constantly in the officials’ ears about the Rebels hurdling players on kick attempts.

“It’s illegal to hurdle a player to block a field goal and we warned (an official) early and they did it the whole game,” Meyer said. “I grabbed the (official) on my sideline early in the game and I said, ‘Listen, they’re doing this,’ and the guy made a comment that (Lockett) went through a gap. The way we teach field-goal protection, there should be no gaps.

“It wasn’t John. They hurdled the protection, so we’ll find out (by watching film) if that’s what happened and I’ll tell them that that’s against NCAA rules. I don’t think the kick was low.”

A collective moan rang throughout the stadium after the play. Then there was utter silence – minus the few Ole Miss fans in the house.

The Gators were momentarily shocked, but there was still confidence and hope running throughout the sideline.

“It didn’t deflate us,” sophomore cornerback Joe Haden said. “We weren’t going to tie, we were going to win. We knew we just wanted to get the ball back to the offense. We didn’t want the tie, we wanted to go for the score and win.”

UF’s defense held its ground on the next drive, limiting the Rebels to only three plays for eight yards and leaving 2:05 on the game clock.

The Gators were nearly flawless on the ensuing series with quarterback Tim Tebow completing his first three passes for 37 yards. After two badly overthrown balls to Harvin and senior receiver Louis Murphy and a 9-yard option to junior receiver/running back Brandon James, the Gators were left with a fourth-and-1 situation – an almost given with Tebow under center.

But this fourth-and-1 proved to be too long for the Heisman winner and the Gators were left with the image of a flock of Rebels stomping on the orange and blue “F” in the middle of its field.

“I thought we’d get it,” Tebow said. “I thought I willed myself to the first down, but just didn’t do it.”

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