Brantley guts it out

Florida's John Brantley is sacked and fumbles the ball by South Carolina'a Melvin Ingram during the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina Saturday, November 12, 2011.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The game ended with John Brantley on the ground, reaching for his ankle as the South Carolina players danced around him.

As the Traveling Wilburys sang, Brantley had “been beat up and battered ‘round.” But he kept going out there, trying to somehow finish a game for a team that can’t find ways to finish them.

“I just got stepped on,” Brantley said of the ankle that kept him out of 2 games and changed Florida’s season. “It’s a rough game, but it’s no one’s fault.”

Brantley was sacked three times in the game. He lost a fumble when the pass rush came off the edge on Florida’s first possession. He was hit hard on several occasions and got up limping more than once.

“John’s tough,” said center Dan Wenger. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. I thought he did a good job. I wish I had played better for him.”

Florida changed up its offensive line again to try to protect Brantley by shifting Wenger to center and starting Jonotthan Harrison at left guard. Harrison suffered an unspecified injury early in the game and was replaced by Kyle Koehne.

While Florida was able to generate something in the running game in the second half, it struggled to give Brantley time to throw. He finished with only 119 yards passing, and Florida’s only touchdown of the game came from Jacoby Brissett, who replaced Brantley at quarterback on Florida’s last trip to the red zone and ran one in from the 2-yard line.

Brantley ended up with minus-28 yards in rushing yards, including five on a play where he checked off and running back Chris Rainey didn’t hear him. Brantley had to eat the ball and the play helped kill a Gator drive.

“We had our opportunities today,” Brantley said. “We left a lot of opportunities out there. We’ve just gotta be able to finish. You know you have your chances and one or two plays of missed opportunities will cost you getting the ‘W.’ ”

South Carolina was torched by Arkansas’ passing offense last week, but Florida couldn’t find the same magic against the Gamecocks.

“The pass rush was a lot better obviously,” said Gamecock defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. “That helped a lot because we didn’t have to get in pressure defenses too much.”

Brantley was limping after one hit and said the effects of his high-ankle sprain are still lingering. He also was hit late by freshman Jadeveon Clowney, bringing a 15-yard penalty on the Gamecocks.

“He played like a man out there,” said Rainey. “He told the coaches not to put the other quarterback in there. He showed what a man he is.”

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