Gators set to go for two against Mizzou
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 7:55 p.m.
The 11-year-old boy had enough. He had watched his unranked team do so little against a sixth-ranked team that the lure of a blue sky and friends outside was too overwhelming to sit through another second of the game.
And so, he went outside, down the road to one of his favorite places where he could ride his bike up and down coquina hills and feel the wind in his short-cropped hair.
But when he came home, his father sat there with a bemused look on his face.
What could have happened?
Yeah, duh. It was 20-0 and the Gators couldn't even get a first down and had only three offensive plays in the first quarter, and Missouri was driving for another score when the hills beckoned.
“The Gators lost 20-18.”
The boy wasn't yet skilled in math, but he did know football. Eighteen? What in the world had happened? Had they somehow recorded a pair of safeties? He ran through all the scenarios in his head before his dad broke in.
“They went for two each time.”
For a young boy in St. Augustine, this was a hard concept to grasp. It made no sense. And now, just short of 47 years later, it still makes no sense.
The moment the Missouri Tigers joined the SEC, one thought popped into my head — 20-18. It is the only time these two schools have met. It was the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1966.
It's still hard to believe what happened.
“They were playing an eight-man line and they rushed all of them,” said Steve Spurrier, the Florida quarterback that day. “And we couldn't get them off the field defensively.
“At the end of the third quarter, I went over and asked Coach (Ed) Kensler (the offensive coordinator) what we should do because we didn't have an answer. He said, ‘I don't know.' So I said, ‘I guess I better start making up some plays.' ”
Spurrier's solution was to start hitting some quick passes in the flats, using halfback Jack Harper as a receiver.
He drove his team down the field and finally threw for a touchdown when Harper made an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone. And then the call came in.
Go for two.
“I don't think we'd gone for two all year,” Spurrier said. “So I was a little surprised. They said something after the game that 20-8 would look better than 20-7.”
Later, coach Ray Graves would say that was the argument his assistant coaches would use. Spurrier's pass fell incomplete. But Missouri fumbled the next kickoff and Spurrier snuck in from the 2-yard line to cut it to 20-12.
Gotta kick it now, right? Florida lined up to kick the extra point … and then faked it. Allen Trammell's pass fell incomplete.
“We'd used that play my sophomore year against LSU,” Spurrier said. “It worked then.”
Spurrier got the ball back for one more try and marched the Gators down the field again. This time, Charlie Casey made a sensational catch in the end zone for the score. Florida had no choice but to go for two but again Spurrier's rollout pass was incomplete.
In the last 11 minutes of the game, Spurrier completed 16 passes for 198 yards. He was named the game's MVP despite being on the losing side.
But it was still an empty feeling for Gator fans. In a way, it was also typical for Florida.
That kind of game was Gator football before success began coming in waves starting in 1990. Every loss came with a great story. Some of the best individual performances came during team defeats.
And can you imagine if that game had been played in today's world of instant analysis, fan blogs and PTI? Oh, the humanity.
The FireRayGraves.com site would have been up as soon as the last pass hit the ground.
It has been a long time since Florida played Missouri in a football game and a lot has changed. The Sugar Bowl isn't played in Tulane Stadium. Florida no longer takes a live alligator to bowl games. And Missouri is in the SEC.
I'm guessing there isn't a player or coach on either sideline who remembers the only other time these two teams met. Some of us can't forget.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.