Florida had an underclassmen step up to end its three-game streak without a takeaway.
Florida sophomore safety Jeawon Taylor ended UF’s string of three straight games without a defensive turnover when he picked off Texas A&M freshman quarterback Kellen Mond in the second quarter.
The interception came a play after Florida redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks was picked off in the end zone by Texas A&M linebacker Otaro Alaka. The Gators took the ball over at their own 25 yard line.
It was the first career interception for Taylor. The 6-foot, 206-pound Taylor made his career start in place of senior Nick Washington, who sat out with a shoulder injury.
It was UF’s first forced turnover since freshman C.J. Henderson returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Tennessee on Sept. 16.
Florida was able to get a second chance on a fourth-down conversion, thanks to an officiating snafu.
Florida sophomore running back Lamical Perine appeared stuffed for no gain on a fourth-and-one attempt from the Texas A&M 17-yard line with 2:04 left in the first half. But the officiating crew, led by crew chief Hubert Owens, ruled the play dead due to an inadvertent whistle.
With the second chance, Perine gained two yards for the first down. Perine ended the possession with a 15-yard TD run for his sixth rushing TD of the season, putting the Gators up 10-3.
Florida sophomore wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland returned to action after sitting out the LSU game with a high ankle sprain. Cleveland, UF’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 326 yards and 2 TDs, suffered the injury two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
Cleveland was targeted twice in the first half, but did not come up with any receptions.
Florida freshman quarterback/receiver Kadarius Toney (shoulder), defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga (ankle) and linebacker Jeremiah Moon (ankle) all sat out the game. Senior running back Mark Thompson (heel) suited up. Left guard Brett Heggie (head) played after spending the week in concussion protocol.
Defensive end Jordan Sherit was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. UF coach Jim McElwain said Sherit will undergo surgery.
National Champs honored
Florida honored a pair of national title teams during the Texas A&M game. First, Florida’s 2017 national championship baseball team was honored between the first and second quarter, receiving a rousing ovation from the crowd following a video tribute. Florida won its first baseball national title in school history last June, sweeping LSU in two games in final series at the College World Series.
Florida’s national championship women’s tennis team was honored at halftime.
Captains for the game were Florida senior punter Johnny Townsend, Florida sophomore linebacker David Reese, Florida junior defensive lineman Khairi Clark and Florida sophomore offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor. … With a 12-yard catch in the first quarter, Florida senior receiver Brandon Powell extended his streak of 20 straight games with at least one reception. … Florida senior tight end DeAndre Goolsby had four catches for 23 yards in the first half, his first receptions since Sept. 23 against Kentucky … Florida’s 2017 Big East Conference champion women’s lacrosse team also was honored on the field during the third quarter. … Freshman running back Adarius Lemmons saw his first action of the season returning kickoffs. … Franks’ 79-yard run in the third quarter was the longest by a UF quarterback since 1996.