Florida made a lot of big plays Saturday to turn a 31-14 deficit late in the third quarter into a 35-31 victory over South Carolina.
But take away one play — one fluky, almost forgotten play — and maybe all those other plays don’t happen and the Gators are sitting at 6-4 and owning a three-game losing streak today instead being 7-3.
The play of the game turned out to be a scramble play where Feleipe Franks rolled right and threw a desperation pass that was deflected and somehow found its way into the arms by Trevon Grimes to convert a third-and-eight to the UF 46.
Had that fortunate play been just another frustrating incompletion, which it appeared it would be when the pass was thrown, the Gators would have been facing a fourth-and-eight from their own 37 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Game, perhaps, is over.
The comeback, perhaps, never happens
But the play was made, and the Gators — and the game — were never the same from that point on.
That one fluke play launched the comeback.
After the Grimes catch, the Gators were suddenly unstoppable.
Three plays later, Kadarius Toney scored on an 18-yard screen pass with 56 seconds left in the third quarter to make it a 31-21 game.
On UF’s next possession, the Gators drove 89 yards in eight plays, closing it out with a 23-yard TD run by Lamical Perine with 11:03 remaining in the game to draw UF to within three, 31-28.
Following another defensive stop that gave the ball right back to the offense, the Gators drove 66 yards, all on the ground, for the winning touchdown, which came on a 1-yard dive by Franks on fourth-and-goal with 4:47 remaining.
After that unlikely third-down catch by Grimes in the third quarter, the Gators outscored the Gamecocks 21-0 and outgained them 243 yards to 36.
Game won, 35-31.
Had Grimes not made that catch, well …
“Those guys had, what, lost two games in a row,” South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson said after the game. “They were getting ready to go off of that cliff. But then momentum changed (with that play). That gave them the mindset that they’re still in it. After that happened, those guys just picked it up and started playing a lot harder the rest of the game. We just didn’t stop them enough after that.”
The game had seemed all but over before the critical third-down conversion. The Gamecocks had just gone up 31-14 after setting up a short touchdown run with an 89-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Deebo Samuel. When UF opened its next possession with a false start penalty on tackle Martez Ivey, the Gators seemed dead.
Then Grimes caught a 15-yard pass from Franks for a first down.
Two plays later, Grimes reeled in the deflected pass to convert third-and-eight.
“That was a big play in the game,” UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday. “After they scored their last touchdown, the stats weren’t very close. After they went up 31-14, the stats were very lopsided. That was just a big play. We might’ve had to punt in that situation. Watching it, it was pretty much a busted play all the way around.
“When you have good players, the ball tends to bounce your way more when you go hard. A guy just made a play. Getting the first down there was critical for us. It’s hard to say that play changed the game, but that first down in that situation did.”
Mullen said the way the Gators played after the play is an indication of what they were capable of doing on offense Saturday, but penalties kept putting the Gators behind the chains earlier in the game.
“That play converted that first down,” Mullen said. “If I’m not mistaken, that point on — and that’s when you see the stats go (in UF’s favor) — we didn’t have any self-inflicted penalties, any self-inflicted problems on offense. The point is, what if we didn’t do self-inflicted stuff the whole day, would the whole day have been that way? And if we can execute at a high level, look at what we can accomplish when we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Great article Robbie. And as Pat Dooley likes to point out, it’s a hand full of plays in a few games that define a season. It’s great to have a real coach again!!
Maybe so, but the real deal was the part about, “…..those guys started playing harder the rest of the game”. And, therein lies the rub — just imagine what the final score might have been had we played harder for the ENTIRE game.
This was all a part of the maturation process and character building. If they played like that all season….then heck, we’d all be booking reservations for Atlanta. But they haven’t…because they just haven’t been developed enough. Coach Mullen has changed all that. He is actually leading and developing football players and men. Imagine that… 🙂
First of all – DUH. That play was the game!
Secondly – You didn’t emphasize that our man Franks made a beautiful one bounce grab of a snap well over his head.
Thirdly – there was a rush on Franks before he got the pass off.
Finally – Franks got the ball to the first down marker, didn’t run out of bounds, didn’t throw the ball away.
Franks deserves lots of credit for this win.
Sure won’t dispute that.
I’d agree with that.
i agree it was a little lucky, but franks more than deserved some luck. its not like the team hasn’t had some bad luck, these things happen both ways over time. champions take advantage of good fortune, so it was a good thing. inversely, if you have bad luck, you have to find a way, be it more cautious, or growth in an area that needed it, or extra effort, and we did.
the veterans ive been around have tried to teach that order is a good thing. its a crazy world, and no one wants order to come from bad things, but until some point in a time i cant predict, chaos is lurking and its not such a wonderful thing, at least not always. a crazy play like that may have brought some order to this program. who knows, it may start a run that lasts a good while. i hope so, there are things to work on, but if it creates that energy, that controlled energy to keep a healthy flow, it could show up on sec stories one day on espn, instead of having to watch that alabama interception on shane matthews every year. id like that. and i thank all of the veterans, all of those in history and today that gave our world the order we have. i know everyone wants a better world, but it took someone just to get things this well, and maybe this is an unworthy thank you to the vets who have done things the rest of us can only sense the value of, but it is heartfelt.
Thank you, mveal — and its worthy because I know you mean it.
MV right on. Sometimes there is a tipping point that turns the tide. (hate the word ride). When the turn happens for the good and momentum is seized and built on they can win the day. Keep the momentum going and build on that day for the next asked the next…. Success is fickle and good leaders have to work to keep the momentum moving in their favor. Fatal flaw,of some at this point. Don’t think that is case with our coach. But our young men are the bigger variable. Can they handle the moment, will they respond to their coaches?
The harder they work, the luckier they get!
I heard that!
Hey it’s been said sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good
And with 6 minutes left in the third quarter, the tv announcers were discussing the great South Carolina turnaround and how great this season and the South Carolina future was. And then Muschamp had two punts blocked.
Hahahaha! Keith Olbermann used to call that “Premature Jocularity.” Anyway, how would this season have been part of a turnaround when they actually won more games last year than they can win this year (even if they hadn’t pulled a classic Mush against us)?
ESPN had South Carolina having a 95.6% chance to win the game at the time of that snap. It went down to about 93% after the conversion and kept going down the rest of the game.