FINAL: Florida Gators lose SEC Championship Game to Alabama Crimson Tide, 52-46
When you score 46 points on a team, you would win against most teams.
Top-ranked Alabama (11-0) isn't like most teams, especially with three standouts in Mac Jones, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith. The Crimson Tide earned the top seed in the College Football Playoffs with a 52-46 win over Florida on Saturday in Atlanta.
The Gators (8-3) will await their bowl destination on Selection Sunday.
Five takeaways:Florida can't stop Alabama
Highlights:See the biggest plays of the game
No. 1 Alabama 52, No. 11 Florida 46
Alabama 14 21 0 17 — 52
Florida 10 7 14 15 — 46
BAMA_N.Harris 8 run (Reichard kick), 12:20.
FLA_Toney 51 pass from Trask (McPherson kick), 10:05.
BAMA_D.Smith 31 pass from M.Jones (Reichard kick), 6:07.
FLA_FG McPherson 40, 1:57.
BAMA_N.Harris 7 pass from M.Jones (Reichard kick), 11:27.
BAMA_N.Harris 23 pass from M.Jones (Reichard kick), 2:28.
FLA_Trask 1 run (McPherson kick), 1:09.
BAMA_N.Harris 17 pass from M.Jones (Reichard kick), :06.
FLA_Grimes 50 pass from Trask (McPherson kick), 13:25.
FLA_N.Wright 3 run (McPherson kick), :18.
BAMA_N.Harris 1 run (Reichard kick), 11:29.
BAMA_FG Reichard 20, 9:53.
FLA_Pierce 1 run (McPherson kick), 6:33.
BAMA_D.Smith 15 pass from M.Jones (Reichard kick), 4:59.
FLA_K.Pitts 22 pass from Trask (Trask run), 2:07.
First downs 35 26
Rushes-yards 40-187 26-54
Passing 418 408
Comp-Att-Int 33-43-1 26-40-0
Return Yards 90 65
Punts-Avg. 2-43.5 2-41.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-2
Penalties-Yards 8-71 6-50
Time of Possession 34:21 25:39
RUSHING_Alabama, N.Harris 31-178, B.Robinson 4-19, Forristall 1-1, J.Billingsley 1-(minus 3), M.Jones 3-(minus 8). Florida, E.Jones 2-24, Toney 2-15, N.Wright 4-11, M.Davis 1-2, Pierce 2-2, Trask 15-0.
PASSING_Alabama, M.Jones 33-43-1-418. Florida, Trask 26-40-0-408.
RECEIVING_Alabama, D.Smith 15-184, N.Harris 5-67, Metchie 4-62, Forristall 3-20, Bolden 2-40, J.Billingsley 2-29, X.Williams 1-12, Tennison 1-4. Florida, Toney 8-153, K.Pitts 7-129, Grimes 4-78, N.Wright 3-27, M.Davis 2-15, Copeland 2-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.
What went right: Florida added two touchdowns to their second half tally, with Kyle Pitts making spectacular catch after spectacular catch to pressure Alabama to continue scoring. Unfortunately for Florida, they did just that.
What went wrong: UF had negative rushing yards in the fourth quarter, for one. Kyle Trask was sacked and proceeded to fumble inside Florida’s 10-yard line, and the Crimson Tide recovered. And Najee Harris couldn’t be stopped when the Gators needed to get ‘Bama off the field. With 16 seconds to make a miracle happen, Trask was sacked again in what seemed like a fitting finale. Florida got close but couldn’t complete what would have been a monumental comeback.
Play of the quarter: Pitts’ 22-yard touchdown reception came in triple coverage, and served as a reminder of what Florida will miss next season at the position. If that really was Pitts’ last touchdown grab as a Gator, he made sure to go out on a memorable note.
— Graham Hall
Trask sacked on the last play of the game deep in UF territory.
UF tries onside kick, but Bama recovers.
Alabama 14 21 0 17 — 52
Florida 10 7 14 15 — 46
Trask throws TD pass of 22 yards to Pitts to cap a 77-yard drive in 10 plays. Trask then scores for the two-point conversion to bring UF within 52-46 with 2:07 remaining.
Jones to Smith for a 15-yard touchdown to put the Tide back up by 14 with 4:59 remaining. The score capped a 66-yard drive in four plays.
Dameon Pierce scores from a yard out to bring UF to within 45-38 with 6:33 remaining and cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive.
Trask to Pitts for 25 to the Tide 1.
Trask hits Pitts for 31 yards to the Alabama 38.
Tide goes up by two TDs when Will Reichard kicks a 20-yard field goal at the 9:53 mark.
Trask fumbles after a hit and Tide recovers at the UF 10.
Harris scores from a yard out for a TD, his fifth score to put Bama back up by 11 at 42-31 at the 11:23 mark. The scored capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive.
Bama is back on the drive to stretch its leads, having a first down at the UF 12 in six plays.
What went right: A lot for the Gators. Florida’s defense locked down and kept Alabama scoreless in the third quarter, thanks to consecutive stops, and UF’s offense added touchdowns early and late to make it a one-score game heading into the fourth quarter. Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris was limited to just 13 yards in the third quarter after running rampant on the Gators in the first half, too. Florida is firmly in the contest after that critical third period of play.
What went wrong: UF wide receiver Jacob Copeland fumbled deep in Florida’s territory, although running back Nay’Quan Wright made a heads-up play to pounce on it and keep the Gators’ drive alive. Aside from that, Florida had as impressive of a third quarter as they’ve had all season.
Play of the quarter: Trevon Grimes’ 50-yard reception was a commanding start for the Gators and showed the Crimson Tide aren’t going to run away with this one. UF needed that after trailing by 18 points coming out of the halftime break, and it was a sign of things to come rather than a last gasp from the Gators.
Trending: UF’s defense forced a fumble deep in Alabama territory to end the third quarter, although the Crimson Tide recovered at their 23-yard line.
— Graham Hall
Alabama 14 21 0
Florida 10 7 14
Nay'Quan Wright runs in for 3 yards for a TD to bring UF to within 35-31 at 00:18 and capped an 80-yard drive in 12 plays.
Trask picking up first downs running.
Trask to Grimes for 25 to the Alabama 30.
Trask hits Pitts for 20 yards on third down to the UF 33.
Tide back in UF territory when Jones hits Smith for 27 yards to the UF 44.
Florida can't do much on offense before punting it back to the Tide at the Bama 9.
UF stops Bama on fourth down.
Trask hits Trevon Grimes for a 50-yard score to open the second half and cap the 75-yard drive in four plays. The score cut the Gators' deficit to 35-24. Trask is 13 of 18 for 247 yards, 2 TDs. Now is UF's single-season record holder for passing yards (3,964).
What went right: Florida’s final drive of the half, and that’s it. After the Gators went five plays and out on their first series of the second quarter and then fell behind 28-10, their offense came alive. Trask came out firing with three consecutive completions of 39, 8 and 27 yards to Toney, who nearly fumbled at the 1-yard line on his last reception. Trask scored on the next play to bring UF back with 11 points, but that deficit didn’t last long.
What went wrong: A personal foul by Florida’s Zachary Carter late in the first quarter kept Alabama’s drive alive after a third-down incompletion by Jones. He then converted three third-down attempts to start the second quarter, with the final one producing a 7-yard touchdown catch by Najee Harris. The Tide defense forced the first punt of the game on the following possession, with UF only gaining 13 yards. Alabama’s next offensive series ended with another TD catch by Harris, this time from 23 yards out, after two successful third-down plays and a tight end keeper on fourth-and-1. With just over a minute until halftime, Jones & Co. reeled off one last scoring drive that resulted in Harris’ third touchdown reception (17 yards).
Play of the quarter: Harris’ first TD catch, which allowed the Tide to take their first double-digit lead. Jaydon Hill was in position to make the touchdown-saving tackle.
Trending: Harris, who has three receiving touchdowns after entering the game with zero on the season. He’s caught four balls for 53 yards along with 88 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
— Zach Abolverdi
Alabama 14 21
Florida 10 7
Jones to Harris again, this time for a 17-yard TD to cap a 78-yard drive in seven plays for a 35-17 lead with six seconds left in the half.
Jones has the Tide on the move again. Passes to Slade Bolden for 25 to the Alabama 47.
Trask scores from a yard out to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive to cut the deficit 28-17 at the 1:09 mark.
Trask to Toney for 27 yards to the Tide 1.
Trask to Toney for 39 yards to the Alabama 36.
Jones connects with Harris for 23-yard TD for a 28-10 Bama lead. The score capped a 13-play, 70-yard drive with 2:28 left in the half
Another UF penalty gives Tide new life on third down.
Carter sacks Jones for a loss of 4 yards to the Alabama 37.
Alabama's defense is the first to force a punt tonight. Smith returns a UF punt 20 yards to the Alabama 30. Gators need a stop this series or game will begin to turn into a rout.
Jones passes Najee Harris for a 7-yard TD to put Bama up 21-10 with 11:27 remaining. First pass catch for TD for Harris capped a 12-play, 73-yard drive. Harris leads the nation with 22 rushing scores.
What went right: Florida’s first offensive possession. The unit responded to a 7-0 deficit by marching 73 yards in six plays, including a pair of third-down conversions. Kyle Trask moved the chains on third-and-6 with a 15-yard strike to Kyle Pitts, who was cleared to play against Alabama after missing the LSU game. Trask then tied it up on third-and-7, launching a deep ball to Kadarius Toney for a 51-yard touchdown. The offense’s second series also produced points, with UF driving into Tide territory and adding a 40-yard field goal by Evan McPherson.
What went wrong: An offsides penalty on Florida, which helped the Tide strike first. They went right down the field on their opening drive, but faced a third-and-10 from the UF29. Marlon Dunlap jumped offsides prior to the snap, a killer flag. Alabama barely moved the chains with DeVonte Smith’s five-yard reception, which would have been well short of the sticks without the penalty. Instead of forcing a field goal attempt, UF gave up a 19-yard touchdown on the ensuing snap. Trey Dean III picked off Mac Jones in the red zone on Alabama’s second series, but fumbled on the return. Jones threw a 31-yard TD to Smith on the next play.
Play of the quarter: Trask’s 51-yard bomb to Toney, which had shades of Danny Wuerffel’s touchdown pass to Jacquez Green in the 1996 SEC Championship Game against Alabama.
Trending: Alabama’s Smith, who already has 83 yards receiving and a score on five catches.
— Zach Abolverdi
Jones sacked by Andrew Chatfield Jr. for a loss of 5 yards to the UF 48
UF defensive end Zach Carter called with a personal foul penalty to keep Tide marching.
Evan McPherson brings UF within 14-10 with a 40-yard field goal at the 1:57 mark to cap a 10-play, 56-yard drive.
Emory Jones picks up a first down to the Alabama 28 on a 17-yard run for the Gators.
In a wild sequence, after safety Trey Dean makes an interception, but fumbles after being hit, Jones passes to Smith for a 31-yard score.
Jones' pass was intercepted Dean, who returned for 19 yards to the UF 31, he fumbled, forced by John Metchie III, recovered by DeVonta Smith.
Mac Jones passing Crimson Tide down the field with completions of 24 and 15 yards.
Trask hits a 51-yard TD pass to Kadarius Toney to bring the Gators even at 7-all to cap a 76-yard drive in six plays. It's Toney's 10th receiving score.
Kyle Pitts makes his return with a third-down catch for a first down for the Gators at the UF 46.
Najee Harris runs for an 8-yard TD to cap a nine-play, 70-yard drive and a 7-0 Bama lead.
David Reese, Shawn Davis, Jeremiah Moon, Ethan Pouncey, Rashad Torrence II, Lamar Goods and Jaelin Humphries.
Five Gator players watched UF Commencement ceremonies from Atlanta – Jean Delance, Jeremiah Moon, Nick Oelrich, Kyle Trask and Michael Weir. Trask earned a Master's in Sports Management.
Florida and Alabama players warm up before the 8 p.m. kickoff on CBS.
Players from both sides get a look inside the stadium before the 8 p.m. kickoff.
Mullen announced Sunday that standout tight end Kyle Pitts would play tonight vs. Alabama. Sure enough, UF trainers have cleared Pitts to play.
Pitts was scratched from Florida's home finale against LSU last Saturday as a precaution. UF lost that game 37-34.
Pitts was dinged up in the Tennessee game, and Florida's medical staff thought it was best to give him an extra week to recover. The Gators did not specify his injury.
Pitts has 36 receptions for 641 yards and a team-leading 11 touchdowns in 6 1/2 games this season.
He missed 2 1/2 games because of a concussion and a broken nose, injuries stemming from a hard hit against Georgia in early November.
Kemore Gamble started in Pitts' place, and Keon Zipperer also filled the void.
Want to check out tonight's game? Tonight's championship will be on CBS, and also CBS All-Access.
The latest line as of Saturday afternoon had the Gators as a 15 1/2-point underdog, according to BetMGM.