As Florida kicker Eddy Piñeiro trotted out for what looked like a routine extra-point attempt, the home crowd erupted with chants of “Ed-dy, Ed-dy”. It was attempt No. 47 for Piñeiro, and he was looking to keep his extra-point streak unblemished Saturday.
Instead, Piñeiro’s kick sailed wide left, keeping the tying point off the board and stunning the Florida faithful. The Gators didn’t know it at the time, but Piñeiro’s miss would be the nail in the coffin for UF’s rally from a 17-3 deficit in the third quarter in the eventual 17-16 loss to LSU. Replays appeared to show a subpar hold from UF punter Johnny Townsend, but UF coach Jim McElwain wasn’t looking to point fingers, although he did observe something off about Florida’s special teams in the game’s decisive moment.
“It looked like a bad snap. I didn’t see the replay,” McElwain said. “This is why they don’t give you the automatic point.”
After the failed attempt, Florida’s offense appeared to suffer from the sudden loss of momentum. UF would be held scoreless the rest of the way, as LSU hung on to hand McElwain just his second loss at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“The defense responded. We just came up empty on two series of offense,” said McElwain, when asked about the potential deflation from missing the extra-point try. “The way they were snapping the ball late in the shot clock we knew our possessions were limited. We had to make something happen on those and we didn’t.”
However, despite the collective devastation felt by much of Florida’s locker room, the Gators didn’t point to Piñeiro’s miss as a deciding factor in the loss.
Florida sophomore defensive back Chauncey Gardner, who finished the game tied with linebacker David Reese for a UF-high 12 tackles against the Tigers, said Florida had multiple opportunities to pull in front of their SEC rival but couldn’t capitalize. And considering Piñeiro’s previously immaculate record on one-point tries, it seemed pointless to Gardner for any Gator to take issue with someone who has brought stability to a critical position on the team.
“You can’t doubt him,” Gardner said of Piñeiro. “It happens. I mean, everybody can say it cost us the game, but it didn’t cost us the game. It’s one kick, and we had opportunities, plenty of opportunities to come back and score, plenty of opportunities to get the ball back. We can’t put this on Eddy, we’re a team. If Eddy misses, we all miss.”
Rather than harp on the negatives that surround a loss of this magnitude, Gardner insisted the best thing the Gators could do is put the loss behind them and get ready to host Texas A&M.
Besides, Florida doesn’t have to dig too deep in its memory bank to see what happens when a kicker focuses too much on previous shanks or blunders.
“They just executed their game-plan, you know? They’re a good team, can’t take nothing from them,” Gardner said. “We’re a good team, too. Just going to move forward from this and keep playing ball.”