Job done: Gators bounce back by taking over game in fourth quarter

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask completed 21 of 33 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns Saturday to help the Gators defeat South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. [Mic Smith/Associated Press]

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Starting sluggish but finishing scintillating on a rainy, dreary afternoon, the Florida Gators now find themselves right where they wanted to be eight games into their season heading into a bye week and an upcoming SEC showdown against Georgia in two weeks.

 Solidly in control of their own destiny in the SEC East.

 They held onto their favorable position Saturday with a gritty 38-27 win over South Carolina before 78,883 that was fueled by a 21-0 run in the fourth quarter that saw the Gators go from three points down to 18 up with 4:02 left to play.

 “Feels great. Love it,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “You know, you drew it up, said this is where you want to be in November. You’re heading into November in control of your own destiny and what’s going to happen. And that’s where we want to be, that’s where we expect to be at Florida. 

 “We’ve got a bye week. Chance to hopefully get some guys healthy. It’s good credit to the guys, our team, of next guy up to get us in this position with all the injuries we’ve had to deal with this year. But hopefully we get healthy. We’ve got a big break and have got a big three-game stretch after the bye to try to win the SEC East.”

 The win improves the No. 9 Gators to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC. If Florida wins out the remainder of its SEC schedule — Georgia in Jacksonville, Vanderbilt at home and Missouri on the road — the Gators will be representing the East in the SEC Championship Game.

 They’re in this position after beating the team that beat Georgia a week earlier.

 It wasn’t easy. It was tough going all the way. And the Gators had to do it by coming from behind in the fourth quarter.

 Trailing 20-17 going into the quarter, the Gators took the lead on a 25-yard TD pass from Kyle Trask to Freddie Swain, then pulled away with two more Trask touchdown passes — one to tight end Kyle Pitts from five yards out and the other to Trevon Grimes from the same distance.

 In a game where a lot had gone wrong through the first three quarters, the Gators put it all together when the game was on the line in the fourth.

 “Oh, I loved it,” said Trask, who threw for 200 yards and four touchdowns. “This is what you play for, just come into a hostile environment and take and earn everything that is on the field. We love playing games like this and I’m really proud of how our guys came together there at the end and executed at a high level.”

 It was a total team effort in the fourth quarter.

 The defense set up the second TD with a sack/strip by defensive end Zachary Carter that was recovered by tackle Kyee Campell on the USC 29 with 8:44 to play. And it set up the third with a stop on fourth-and-two from the Gamecocks 37 with 7:12 left in the game.

 Five plays after the fourth-down stop, the Trask-to-Grimes TD connection put the game away at 38-20.

 South Carolina scored a late touchdown (1:53 to play) on a four-yard pass from Ryan Hillinski to OrTre Smith to make it a 38-27 game.

 “Good team win today, found a way to win,” Mullen said. “We’ve done that most of the year. We’ve been able to find ways to win as a team. Started really sloppy. Sloppy first half for us with execution. 

 “For the first three quarters of the game they really dominated field position, which is play to win. They kept us pinned deep, made us have to go the length of the field. Then they’d bend and then we’d punt and they won the field position game and did what they needed to. 

 “Fourth quarter we were able to flip that. We were able to create a turnover, create some positive drives, finish drives in the red zone. Really good finish to the game by our guys.”

 It wasn’t a good start, with the Gators falling behind 7-0 on the game’s opening possession on a 1-yard run by Mon Denson that was set up by a 43-yard pass play on the second play of the drive.

 The offense then came on and had a quick three-and-out.

 But the Gators played a little bit on both sides of the ball after that and got to the halftime tied with the Gamecocks 10-10 thanks to a 48-yard field goal by Evan McPherson and a 37-yard TD pass from Trask to Jacob Copeland.

 UF got off to another shaky start in the second half, falling quickly behind when the Gamecocks turned a Trask interception into a 21-yard TD run by  Tavien Feaster.

 But the Gators managed to flip the momentum on the very next play, when running back Dameon Pierce sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown.

 The Gamecocks took a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter following a 31-yard field goal by Parker White.

 Entering the final 15 minutes, the Gators said they never doubted themselves.

 “We expect to win every game that we play in,” senior linebacker David Reese said. “We’ve just got to execute the plan, the plan to win. We expect to win every game we play in. We’re Florida, that’s what we expect.”

 The Gators made the plays they needed to make in the fourth quarter to win the game. The Gamecocks did not.

 “If you have a lead in the fourth quarter you’ve got to make some plays,” USC coach Will Muschamp said. “We have to put our guys in a better position to be successful.”


Up next

Who: Florida vs. Georgia

When: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2

Where: Jacksonville

TV: CBS

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. Listening to Mick Huber while watching close caption TV. SEC announcer claims Freddie Swain was supposed to try and run a route, not block on the Pitts TD catch. Huh? WTH? Is there a rule that says A WR can’t block but must try and run a pass route? I think somebody needs more football education.

    • Here’s the rule: “Offensive pass interference is contact by a Team A player beyond the neutral zone that interferes with a Team B player during a legal forward pass play in which the forward pass crosses the neutral zone. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents.” We were lucky it wasn’t called.

  2. Muschamp is doing most of the whining and I’ll bet the next thing he comes up with is that the officials are Russians. I expect more from him, but the poor sport SC fans are classless in a class of their own.

      • Who are you THE POST MONITOR? Let the pros, like Arnold, handle the posts and their content. Many of us have been here since the start, where were you? And ”free speech” is entitled to ALL AMERICANS!

        • Thanks for the back up, GI……I get deja vu all over again on this one ala a former regular with outstanding football savvy who nevertheless had no sense of humor, spent a good deal of time between really good posts correcting others, and felt the need to tell people what they could or could not post while at the same time signaling his own virtue at every opportunity. But of course, back then there were at least a hundred posts leading up to and after a great win like this, and while this doesn’t rise to that level of sourness it sure was easier to ignore back in the good old days…..a couple of months ago.

          • 6,
            I didn’t say you couldn’t post just reminded you it’s Gatorsports.com I guess only you can tell Jokes. But anyway thanks for being here it is fun nonetheless.

            Other Guy,
            I didn’t say anything to you until now. You are monitoring my post.

          • Perhaps Sambizle is actually the old Tampa with a younger photo? 🙂

            Please, Sambizle, lighten up. Or shall we call you Tampa? Please don’t become that guy. No one really needs reminders from you about anything.

          • Sambizle, he can say what he wants, you must be a sensitive liberal!!
            Gator6, couldnt agree with you more the SC fans are trash. Did you see them during the whole game tossing towels and water bottles onto the field whenever they disagreed with a call? The refs should have penalized the team, that would have forced them to act with some class!

          • Sambizle, he can say what he wants, you must be a sensitive liberal!! Plus WHY do you feel COMPELLED to comment after almost every post with nothing more than “good post brother”? Dont you lknow how annoying that is to everyone, plus if everybody did that this board would be a MESS!
            Gator6, couldnt agree with you more than SC fans are trash. Did you see them during the whole game tossing towels and water bottles onto the field whenever they disagreed with a call? The refs should have penalized the team, that would have forced them to act with some class!
            IAMIOWAN, we definitely see the S&C showing up in the 4th qtr in so many of our games. Ive yet to see our D dragging in the 4th so when their D dies our O shines, while our D holds their O in the 4th.

  3. Gutsy game against an improvoing South Carolina team. Hats off to the Gamecocks for playing us tough for 3 quarters. Hats off to the Gator coaching staff (including our strength/conditioning coach) for preparing the Gators to play at peak energy and strength in the 4th quarter. Hatts off to the young Gators who stepped up and got things done when the starters were out with injuries. GO GATORS – BEAT GEORGIA!!!

  4. %100 correct and although that’s clearly a call that should have been made. It should have been offsetting penalties also because once again (see last week at LSU) Cleveland was getting held in the end zone 5 yards in front of Freddie.

  5. Both teams in this game had some bad calls go against them, not surprising considering the conditions. It’s tough to see at field level in the rain. In other news, footballs are not round and don’t always bounce your way. Coach Mullen handled the adversity with composure and even got a bad call reversed. Muschamp responded more like Fred Flintstone on crack, and the officials treated him as such. The SC players, fans, mascot, and the guy selling popcorn responded by losing their minds too. The Gators stayed calm and took control of a close game against a good team on the road. That’s how leadership works.

    • So here’s the latest rub, Keowee….this morning it’s reported (sympathetically I might add) that now Muschamp has reported his “concerns” about Florida cheating to “the very highest levels of the SEC including Sankey”, and is satisfied “that it’s in their hands now and something will be done”.

      If he expects the SEC to award the game to SC, he has clearly lost his mind. Absent that, I suppose he is expecting that the officials be reprimanded publicly and perhaps even suspended……which basically ignores the actual facts as so clearly laid out by you above. Either way, I am starting to lose respect for I guy that I liked and respected even after he led the Gators into the wilderness. Someone should ask him if he’d like a little cheese with that whine…….

      • Amen to that, 6. I never liked Muschamp’s sideline show when he was at UF. He’s a very good DC but he bit off way more than he could chew in Gainesville. And you’re absolutely right- nobody wants to hear a bunch of post game crying over bad calls,
        especially not recruits and their parents.