Gators end five-year losing streak to Noles
Florida routed FSU to possibly secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid and ended the Seminoles’ streak of making a bowl at an NCAA-record 37 years.
After the last play of the game, Florida coach Dan Mullen yelled for his players to go straight to the fans. They all proceeded to the where the UF fans were still boisterously cheering at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and tight end R.J. Raymond jumped into the stands and led the team and the fans in a victorious chant, followed by their tradition of singing “We are the boys from old Florida.”
It was the first time since 2012 that Florida was able to celebrate a victory over its in-state rival Florida State. The No. 13 Gators (College Football Playoff No. 11) topped the Seminoles 41-14 on Saturday.
“Nobody on our team has beaten Florida State before,” quarterback Feleipe Franks said, “and we came out and battled, and
it definitely ranks at the top.”
The Gators piled on five touchdowns, and they compiled over 500 yards of offense for the third consecutive game.
Junior tailback Lamical Perine accounted for 129 of Florida’s 282 rushing yards. His performance was highlighted by a second-quarter touchdown run that saw him burst through a hole on the left side and zip down the field for a 74-yard score.
And despite eight Florida State penalties through the first two quarters of play, the game was close at the half with Florida carrying a 13-7 lead.
The Gators extended their lead with 10:53 left in the third quarter, however, as another costly penalty on the Seminoles gave Florida a fresh set of downs. An unsportsmanlike conduct on FSU defensive back Stanford Samuels gifted the Gators a first-and-goal at the FSU 5-yard line. It led to the Gators’ second touchdown, a 3-yard pass from Franks to wide receiver Josh Hammond.
“All week, we weren’t worried about this game. We knew we were the better team,” Gardner-Johnson said. “We knew they were the most undisciplined team in America, so we were just going to take advantage of every little opportunity we had. That’s what we did.”
Defensive ends Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga headlined a UF defense that recorded its fourth five-sack game of the season.
Polite had a strip sack of FSU quarterback Deondre Francois, which was recovered by defensive end CeCe Jefferson. It led to a 22-yard touchdown catch by Trevon Grimes on the very next play to give the Gators a 27-7 lead.
Grimes, a transfer from Ohio State, combined with Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson for 210 of the Gators’ 254 passing yards.
And despite two promising touchdown drives by the Seminoles — one that included a one-handed grab in the end zone by running back Cam Akers — the Gators proved too much down the stretch. It was one of their most complete games of the season as they scored 28 points in the second half and held Florida State to 1 of 14 on third downs.
Coupled with Florida State’s self-inflicted wounds, it led to the Seminoles’ collapse at home to culminate a 5-7 season.
“Disappointing loss. Disappointing season,” first-year FSU coach Willie Taggart said. “I think everybody in that locker room is hurting.”
The loss presumably ended the Seminoles’ chances of making a bowl appearance for the 37th consecutive year, which was an NCAA record.
And Florida could be on its way to a major bowl game in Mullen’s first season as head coach.
“I’m trying to go to a New Year’s Six bowl, so that’d fun,” Franks said. “Our guys deserve it.”
Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson makes a 38-yard touchdown catch in the second half against FSU.
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is brought down just short of the goal line by Florida State defensive back Jaiden Woodbey (20) in the first half of the Gators’ 41-14 victory on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.