FINAL: Florida Gators 24, Florida State Seminoles 21

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Anthony Richardson came off the bench and led Florida to a 24-21 victory over rival Florida State on Saturday that made the Gators bowl eligible a week after firing coach Dan Mullen.

Richardson replaced turnover-prone Emory Jones early in third quarter and played significant snaps for the first time in a month. The dynamic freshman completed 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown to Justin Shorter that gave the Gators (6-6) some breathing room in a tight game.

Dameon Pierce took over from there, going untouched for a 2-yard score after running around and through the Seminoles (5-7). His touchdown came four plays after Pierce was penalized 15 yards for continuing to participate without a helmet; it was ripped off during an 8-yard run. Pierce finished with 62 yards on the ground.

The Seminoles scored to make it close in the final minutes, but they botched an onside kick. Florida then ran out the clock for their third straight victory in the series.

This one included a pregame skirmish, countless exchanges and numerous mistakes — six turnovers and 21 penalties for 196 yards. Those were hardly surprising considering it was two mediocre teams vying for bowl eligibility and bragging rights.

Florida State, which entered the game as a 2½-point underdog despite winning its previous two games, will miss the postseason for the third time in four years.

The Seminoles trailed 24-7 in the fourth before Treshaun Ward got loose for a 19-yard score. It was one of FSU’s few highlights that didn’t involve Jordan Travis.

The quarterback battled through a right shoulder injury that twice forced him out of the game. He ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the second and scampered for 34 more in the fourth to set up Ward’s score.

He completed 18 of 29 passes for 202 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He ran 17 times for 102 yards and was sacked four times.

The turning point came on a 61-yard punt. FSU’s Ontaria Wilson muffed a fair catch, and Florida’s Xzavier Henderson pounced on the loose ball at the FSU 33.

Even more troubling for the ‘Noles, they allowed Florida to convert on a third-and-21 play on the ensuing drive. Richardson found Malik Davis in the flat. Davis slipped a tackle and powered for the first down. Richardson’s pass to Shorter came five plays later.

Florida's Greg Knox improved to 2-0 as an interim coach. He won the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl after Mullen left Mississippi State for Florida.

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida State: The Seminoles have lost three in a row to Florida for the first time since Bobby Bowden and Urban Meyer roamed the sidelines. FSU can only hope to make up ground with its next recruiting class, which is currently ranked higher than Florida’s, and possibility take advantage of some staff consistency under Mike Norvell.

Florida: The Gators don’t want to wait long to fill their coaching void. Athletic director Scott Stricklin would like to have Mullen’s replacement in place in a matter of days, not weeks. Louisiana’s Billy Napier appears to be Florida’s top target although the Ragin’ Cajuns play next Saturday in the Sun Belt Conference championship game.

Florida interim head coach Greg Knox walks Steve Spurrier-Florida Field before the game Saturdagainst Florida State University at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

UP NEXT

Florida State awaits spring practice and Norvell’s third season.

Florida has to determine if wants to play in a bowl with a new coaching staff headed to Gainesville soon.

Florida 24, Florida State 21

Florida State    0    7    0   14 — 21

Florida              7    0  10    7 — 24

First Quarter

FLA_Gamble 47 pass from E.Jones (Howard kick), 10:54.

Second Quarter

FSU_Travis 9 run (Fitzgerald kick), 6:45.

Third Quarter

FLA_FG Howard 36, 11:09.

FLA_Shorter 5 pass from Richardson (Howard kick), 2:09.

Fourth Quarter

FLA_Pierce 3 run (Howard kick), 12:36.

FSU_Ward 19 run (Fitzgerald kick), 9:46.

FSU_O.Wilson 8 pass from Travis (Fitzgerald kick), :44.

                                           FSU           FLA

First downs                            22             23

Total Net Yards                     354           357

Rushes-yards                  34-151           46-139

Passing                             203                218

Punt Returns                     1-0                2-11

Kickoff Returns                    3-66           0-0

Interceptions Ret.                  3-28           2-0

Comp-Att-Int                       20-33-2       21-31-3

Sacked-Yards Lost                 4-31          1-11

Punts                                       6-39.2    5-48.6

Fumbles-Lost                           3-1           1-0

Penalties-Yards                        9-89        13-107

Time of Possession                  28:10       34:51

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Florida St., Travis 18-110, Ward 4-25, Toafili 5-22, Corbin 6-10, Milton 1-(minus 16). Florida, Pierce 12-62, Richardson 11-34, Jones 5-23, Wright 7-18, Davis 8-17, (Team) 3-(minus 15).

PASSING_Florida St., Travis 18-29-1-202, Rodemaker 1-2-0-7, Milton 1-2-1-(minus 6). Florida, Jones 16-24-3-163, Richardson 5-7-0-55.

RECEIVING_Florida St., Parchment 5-53, O.Wilson 3-50, Corbin 3-19, J.Douglas 2-40, McDonald 2-18, Ward 2-(minus 8), McClain 1-11, J.Wilson 1-11, Helton 1-9. Florida, Davis 4-44, Gamble 3-80, Copeland 3-32, Wells 3-19, Zipperer 2-22, Shorter 2-10, Whittemore 2-9, Wright 2-2.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.

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Whitley's take: Beating FSU depends on what's in the Gators' heads

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Sunshine Showdown Injury Report: FLORIDA — OUT: CB Jaydon Hill (knee, out for season), S Kamar Wilcoxson (knee, out for season); LB Ventrell Miller (arm surgery, out for season); PROBABLE: QB Emory Jones (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: LB Jeremiah Moon (undisclosed), DL Daquan Newkirk (undisclosed), Jadarrius Perkins (undisclosed), Ethan White (ankle). FLORIDA STATE — OUT: DB Sidney Williams (undisclosed), DT Dennis Briggs Jr. (undisclosed), DE Leonard Warner III (undisclosed), OL Thomas Shrader (leg), LB Emmett Rice (undisclosed), DB Byron Turner Jr. (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: WR Keyshawn Helton (undisclosed).

12:05 p.m. | Florida recognizes 27 players on Senior Day

Prior to kickoff against FSU, the Florida Gators recognized 27 seniors or redshirt seniors as part of Senior Day, indicating they more than likely would be playing their final regular season contest with the program. As their names were called, the Gators exited from the south end zone tunnel carrying flowers and began walking toward their families, who were standing at the 35-yard line. Although the stadium was nowhere near capacity 10 minutes prior to the game, there was noticeable praise for several seniors, including running backs Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis, along with defensive linemen Zachary Carter and Jeremiah Moon. 

Here’s the full list of the Florida seniors recognized Saturday:

Brandon Becar

Lacedrick Brunson

Amari Burney

Zachary Carter

Jace Christmann

Coleman Crozier

Malik Davis

Trey Dean III

Jean Delance

Chase DeMichele

Kemore Gamble

Chris Howard

Dylan Meeks

Jeremiah Moon

Ventrell Miller

Patrick Moorer

Daquan Newkirk

Dameon Pierce

Jordan Pouncey

Stewart Reese

Isaac Ricks

Randy Russell

Nicolas Sutton

Joshua Tse

Tyrone Truesdell

Antonio Valentino

Rick Wells

— Graham Hall

FIRST QUARTER

12:14 p.m.| Gators score first

Emory Jones, who started at QB, teamed up with tight end Kemore Gamble for a 47-yard touchdown on the game's first series.

More:Gamble family trying to motivate him while dealing with tragedy

Florida tight end Kemore Gamble celebrates his 47-yard touchdown pass from Emory Jones over Florida State defensive back Jammie Robinson in the first possession of the game Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

12:44 p.m. | Gators' first-quarter analysis

What went right: The Gators took a 7-0 lead when Emory Jones found tight end Kemore Gamble darting down the left sideline, and Gamble broke one tackle while staying on his feet to complete the 47-yard score. On the other side of the ball, UF held the ‘Noles to just 20 yards on offense, recorded two tackles for loss and hauled in an interception just past midfield with four seconds remaining in the quarter. 

What went wrong: Florida committed three penalties, all of which occurred before the ‘Noles had attempted a play on offense. Jones answered McKenzie Milton’s interception with one of his own to cap the first quarter, and the ‘Noles have met the Gators at the line of scrimmage through 15 minutes of play. 

Play of the quarter: Gamble’s catch-and-run touchdown gets the nod here — a play made all the more special considering his mother made the trip to Gainesville from Miami for the first time this season. 

Trending: Following Jones’ bad interception, the UF defense retakes the field looking to protect the one-score lead to begin the second quarter.

— Graham Hall

Florida State     0

Florida              7

SECOND QUARTER

1:08 p.m. | FSU ties game

QB Jordan Travis scores on a 9-yard run to tie the game at the 6:45 p.m. mark.

The seven-play, 68-yard drive for FSU followed Jones' second interception of the game.

After driving inside the FSU 10-yard line, Jones throws his third interception of the half and 13th of the year.

1:36 p.m. | Gators' 2nd-quarter analysis

What went right: Not too much for Florida, as the Gators couldn’t build on the early lead, instead letting FSU come back and tie the game on Jordan Travis’ nine-yard rush. UF did muster more than 100 yards on offense in the quarter, but it didn’t affect the scoreboard. 

What went wrong: The self-inflicted wounds continued in the second quarter as Jones tossed two more interceptions, including one in the final minute in FSU’s end zone, and the Gators’ defense finally broke, allowing Jordan Travis to dart 24 yards in two plays to tie the score at 7-7 with 6:45 left in the first half. Florida was whistled for three additional penalties in the second quarter, bringing their first-half total to six penalties. Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson has yet to make his return after heading to the medical tent in the first quarter, while Nay’Quan Wright appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left knee late in the second quarter. 

Play of the quarter: Has to be Jones’ third interception of the game, as it erased UF’s momentum and ensured the game would be tied at a touchdown apiece heading into the second half. 

Trending: The Gators lost all the momentum they’d built at the end of the second quarter on another costly interception by Emory Jones, but UF gets the ball back to begin the second half.

— Graham Hall

Florida State    0    7

Florida              7    0

THIRD QUARTER

 2:09 p.m. | Gators take lead 10-7

Chris Howard kicks a 36-yard field goal to put UF up 10-7 at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter.

2:34 p.m. | Richardson TD pass

Anthony Richardson completes a 5-yard TD pass to Justin Shorter to put UF up 17-7 with 2:09 left in the quarter.

2:44 p.m. | Gators 3rd-quarter analysis

What went right: The Gators took a 10-7 lead less than four minutes into the third quarter when Chris Howard connected on a 36-yard field goal. With Richardson under center, the Gators would make it 17-7 after the ‘Noles muffed Jeremy Crawshaw’s field-flipping punt, and Justin Shorter hauled in UF’s second touchdown of the afternoon. On FSU’s next possession, freshman cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. made an impressive interception while lined up in single coverage to give the Gators the ball right back. 

What went wrong: Mistakes continued as the third quarter commenced, starting with Chris Howard’s kickoff, which landed out of bounds to give FSU starting field position at the 35-yard line. Following another errant throw, Jones was booed and subsequently benched for Richardson. Things got even chippier in the third quarter, with multiple players on both teams getting whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. 

Play of the quarter: Crawshaw’s booming punt and Henderson’s heads-up play gave the Gators the short field position, ensuring the drive would continue and Florida would have an opportunity to extend the lead. 

Trending: The Gators are in FSU territory once again, looking to make it 24-7, as the final fourth quarter of the regular season gets underway.

— Graham Hall

Florida State    0    7    0

Florida              7    0   10

FOURTH QUARTER

88,491 in attendance at The Swamp

2:57 p.m. | Pierce scores for Gators

Dameon Pierce scored from three yards out to put UF up 24-7 with 12:36 remaining.

3:06 p.m. | Seminoles cut deficit

FSU comes within 24-14 on a 19-yard touchdown run by Treshaun Ward at the 9:46 mark.

3:54 p.m. | FSU comes within 24-21

4:01 p.m. | Gators beat Seminoles

What went right: Despite the best efforts of the ‘Noles, Dameon Pierce eventually found the end zone from three yards out to push UF’s lead to 24-7 following Howard’s extra point. UF’s defense forced a three-and-out at a critical juncture, too, allowing the Gators to eat away at the game clock with a double-digit lead. 

What went wrong: Florida State did answer back when Treshaun Ward found the end zone from 19 yards out, cutting UF’s lead to 24-14. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but penalties were a constant theme throughout the contest, and that includes the fourth quarter. The Gators were whistled six times collectively across the final 15 minutes of the game, bringing the total to 13 infractions Saturday against the ‘Noles. 

Play of the quarter: As the game approached the four-hour mark, Florida State’s onside kick attempt wasn’t just some necessary comic relief – it sealed UF’s victory and gave the Gators bowl-eligibility. 

— Graham Hall

Florida State    0    7    0   14 — 21

Florida              7    0  10    7 — 24

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