Florida sweats out 16-10 victory over LSU
BATON ROUGE, LA. >> Florida coach Jim McElwain watched his Gators overcome injuries, an extra road game and repeated adversity in the shadow of their own goal line. That should be valuable experience for a feisty football team that’ll face long odds again when it meets topranked Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game in a couple weeks.
Florida’s defense stuffed LSU’s Derrius Guice on a do-or-die run from the 1-yard line in the final seconds, and the No. 21 Gators held on for a tension-filled 16-10 victory that clinched the Southeastern Conference East Division on Saturday.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our players and our staff, and I’m happy for our Gator fans who don’t think we’re very good, but all we do is end up back in Atlanta,” said McElwain, whose Gators (8-2, 6-2 SEC, No. 23 CFP) also won the SEC East last year.
The final play capped a defensive struggle in which No. 16 LSU converted a fourth-and-10 play on its final drive, only to get stopped on back-toback runs from the 1 to end the game. Fullback J.D. Moore came up short on third down.
Florida quarterback Austin Appleby completed only seven passes on 17 attempts, but one of his connections went for a pivotal 98-yard touchdown to Tyrie Cleveland. Eddy Piniero scored the rest of Florida’s points on field goals of 36, 24 and 34 yards.
LSU (6-4, 4-3 SEC, No. 16 CFP) controlled most of the game and held statistical advantages, outgaining Florida 423 yards to 270 and holding possession for 34:02. LSU also led 7-0 after Guice’s early 1-yard touchdown.
But on three occasions, the Tigers failed to score after driving inside Florida’s 10 — the first time because of Guice’s fumble in the first half and the second time because of a botched field goal in the third quarter. LSU’s lone field goal came three failed plays after the Tigers had a first-and-goal from the 4.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot. We had a lot of opportunities,” said LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron, whose prospects of keeping the job long term weren’t helped by the result.