Meyer, Gators celebrate 'emotional' win
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.
TAMPA — In the locker room after it was over, Florida assistant coach Chuck Heater hugged Urban Meyer around the neck and said, "What a run!"
The run ended Saturday in dramatic style. Florida intercepted five passes including Ahmad Black's 80-yard touchdown return to clinch the game, as the Gators sent Urban Meyer out a winner, 37-24 over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
"It was real emotional," said senior center Mike Pouncey. "But to be honest, even when we were down I never thought we were going to lose."
Florida rallied from a 24-17 second-half deficit to score the game's final 20 points in Meyer's last game as the Florida coach. Meyer, who announced his resignation Dec. 8, turns the keys to the program over to Will Muschamp.
"Will Muschamp is getting a bunch of really good players," Meyer said. "And I know this year was not a good year, but that senior class will go down as one of the best to ever play the game."
Muschamp attended the game sitting in the luxury suite occupied by Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
What he saw was a Florida offense that struggled again before finding some life in the second half with Jordan Reed at quarterback. Reed finished with 68 rushing yards and 60 passing while playing most of the second half at quarterback.
The Gators scored in the first half on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Lerentee McCray, and Chas Henry kicked three field goals. Black, who had two interceptions, was the game's MVP.
"Florida's been up and down all year, but when they play they really play," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno, whose team finished the season 7-6.
Florida finishes the season 8-5, as Meyer won his fifth bowl game in six tries at Florida.