Gators grind it out, top Aggies

Florida running back Mike Gillislee tips tows down the sideline for a touchdown during the second half against Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, Saturday, September 8, 2012.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — In the southeast corner of Kyle Field, a small group of Florida fans serenaded their team off the field with chants of “S-E-C! S-E-C!”

The No. 24 Gators welcomed Texas A&M to the SEC by grinding out a physical 20-17 win in front of 87,114 Saturday.

“It’s not always pretty,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “We’re going to have a lot of games like this. It’s who we are.”

Florida’s defense turned up the heat in the second half, shutting out the Aggies and allowing only three first downs while the offense did just enough to get the win. Mike Gillislee’s nifty 12-yard touchdown run around right end early in the fourth quarter was the game-winner.

Florida trailed 17-10 after a first half in which UF had only three possessions. But in the second half, the defense adjusted and shut down coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense.

And when the Gators had to get a first down late in the game, they let sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel do the damage. Driskel’s 21-yard scamper clinched the win in his first start at quarterback for the Gators.

“It was a real confidence builder,” said Florida guard Jon Halapio. “To come in here with so many players going down and win says a lot about this team.”

Florida lost several players to injuries in the first half including, linebacker Jelani Jenkins on the first series. But the Gators were able to improve their record to 2-0 and end a seven-game losing streak to teams from the SEC West.

Next week, Florida travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on 2-0 Tennessee in a 6 p.m. game.

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