Franks qui­ets home crowd as Ga­tors top Game­cocks

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Sports - BY MARK LONG

Feleipe Franks placed his in­dex fin­ger across his lips af­ter both touch­down runs, send­ing a mes­sage to a home crowd that booed him ear­lier.

Af­ter the sec­ond one, there was noth­ing Franks could have done to si­lence the Florida faith­ful.

Franks ac­counted for three touch­downs, in­clud­ing the goa­head score with a lit­tle more than four min­utes re­main­ing, and the 19th-ranked Ga­tors ral­lied to beat South Carolina 35-31 Satur­day and end a twogame los­ing streak.

“I’m a su­per emo­tional player,” Franks said. “That what makes it a two-way street. Lots of peo­ple are go­ing to like me and lots of peo­ple aren’t go­ing to like me. Maybe that’s some­thing I shouldn’t have did. But at the same time, I’m an emo­tional player. I want to win as much as any­body in the world. I’m an emo­tional guy. That’s the way I play my game. I do apol­o­gize for that.”

Franks dived across the goal line on fourth down from in­side the 1-yard line to put the Ga­tors ( 7-3, 5-3 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, No. 15 CFP) ahead for the first time all day and for good.

Coach Dan Mullen said he didn’t hes­i­tate to go for it even though a short field goal would have tied the game. The Ga­tors over­came a 17-point deficit in the sec­ond half to pre­vent for­mer Florida coach and cur­rent South Carolina coach Will Muschamp from get­ting a win in his sec­ond trip back to Gainesville.

C.J. Hen­der­son sealed the vic­tory when he in­ter­cepted Jake Bent­ley’s third-down pass on the en­su­ing drive. Muschamp

has dropped eight of his last 10 games in the Swamp.

“It’s a hard, tough loss,” said Muschamp, who is 0-2 against his for­mer team in Gainesville. “We had our op­por­tu­ni­ties. Give Florida credit. They made plays they had to at the end. … When you go on the road in our league and have the op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of us, to lose the game, it’s gut-wrench­ing.”

Franks com­pleted 15 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touch­down. He also ran for 36 yards and two scores a week af­ter get­ting benched for the third time in two sea­sons.

Mullen opened up the quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing the week, but backup Kyle Trask broke a foot in prac­tice Wed­nes­day and is out for the re­main­der of the reg­u­lar sea­son. That left Franks as Mullen’s only vi­able op­tion against the Game­cocks (5-4, 4-4).

Still, the home crowd turned on Franks quickly Satur­day by boo­ing him af­ter con­sec­u­tive plays on the first se­ries in which he fum­bled and badly over­threw a re­ceiver.

Franks re­sponded af­ter his first TD run.

“He’s an emo­tional kid,” Mullen said. “I told him he’s go­ing to get booed. … I also told him don’t worry about any­thing that’s not go­ing to help us win the foot­ball game. Score a touch­down and get off the side­lines so we can coach you.”

South Carolina (5-4, 4-4) scored touch­downs on its first two pos­ses­sions and looked like it would roll on the road – much like Mis­souri did last week. Jake Bent­ley had TD passes to end both drives, but did lit­tle down the stretch.

But Franks and the Ga­tors re­sponded.

THE TAKE­AWAY

South Carolina: Af­ter be­ing up 17 points late in the third quar­ter, the Game­cocks found them­selves in an­other nail-biter late. It was the team’s fifth con­sec­u­tive game de­cided by four points or less. They are 3-2 in those. Florida: The Ga­tors still have hopes of mak­ing a big-time bowl game and reach­ing 10 wins for just the sec­ond time in the last six sea­sons.

MUSCHAMP CON­NEC­TION

Al­though Muschamp will for­ever be tied to Florida, he won’t have many con­nec­tions to his for­mer school af­ter this game.

The Ga­tors have six fifth-year se­niors who signed with Florida be­fore Muschamp’s fi­nal sea­son in 2014.

Florida also has one more pay­ment to Muschamp to ful­fill his sev­er­ance, a $ 787,500 de­posit later this month.

That will com­plete his $6.3 mil­lion buy­out.

JOHN RAOUX AP

Florida de­fen­sive back Trey Dean III breaks up a pass in­tended for South Carolina wide re­ceiver Bryan Ed­wards on Satur­day.

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