Florida bowled over by FCS school Georgia Southern

Florida Gators running back Kelvin Taylor (21) tries to shake Georgia Southern Eagles cornerback Valdon Cooper (30) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.

A football season of injuries, inconsistency and at times incompetence took another disappointing turn for the Florida Gators on Saturday.

The Gators suffered a 26-20 loss to FCS school Georgia Southern at The Swamp, Florida’s first loss to a lower-division school.

When UF third-string quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg’s pass fell incomplete near the end zone as time expired, Georgia Southern players stormed onto Florida Field, waving black-colored school flags and huddling near the Gator head at midfield.

“I’m very disappointed for our program,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “It’s an embarrassment (to be in) this situation.”

Florida entered Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern 15-0 against I-AA/FCS teams since the division formed in 1978. The Gators’ last loss to a current FCS school (Villanova) came in 1946, but that was before the divisions split.

Georgia Southern finished its season 7-4 and 4-4 in the Southern Conference. The Eagles’ triple-option attack gashed the Gators for 429 yards rushing. Georgia Southern, which has lost 19 of its 63 scholarship players this season due to injury, will be making the jump to the FBS next season and join the Sun Belt Conference.

“That’s what playing college football is all about, is having days like today that they’re going to remember forever,” Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said. “And they’re going to remember how much they cared about each other and how much they fought for each other and how much they meant to each other.”

The loss was Florida’s sixth straight and officially knocked the Gators (4-7) out of bowl eligibility for the first time since 1990. It also clinched UF’s first losing season since going 0-10-1 in 1979.

“Thinking about Gator Nation, this is not what you usually envision,” Florida senior linebacker Darrin Kitchens said. “All I can say is we’re going to bounce back and we’re going to be Florida. Florida is going to take care of Florida.”

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