In a game that reminded Florida Gators fans of last year's tilt between the Georgia Bulldogs the Gators fell to the Miami Hurricanes today 21-16 in what is likely to be last matchup between the two teams for the foreseeable future.
After receiving the opening kickoff, nothing went right for the Gators in the first half. Matt Jones, who was getting his first start of the season after missing last week's game against Toledo while recovering from a viral infection, fumbled the ball away early, and the Hurricanes rode the resulting momentum to a 14-6 halftime lead.
The Gators did themselves no favors in that first half. A turnover on downs after a questionable quarterback sneak playcall, a fumble by Trey Burton (which surprisingly didn't come from the Wildcat set), and a bad interception near the goal line by Jeff Driskel all killed long drives without points. This was capped off by an ill-advised two-point conversion attempt; the play was stopped as soon as it began.
And, of course, there were penalties. Lots of them. Dominique Easley had a bad personal foul call, but he more than made up for it with the amount of times he was credited with a quarterback pressure.
The lone bright spot for the Gators in the first half was a resilient Solomon Patton, who had four catches for 90 yards, with his longest reception (46 yards) coming in response to a Hurricane touchdown.
At the start of the second half, the Gators' defense came to play. After forcing the Hurricane offense into a three and out, the Gators promptly marched down the field and connected on a 33-yard field goal to cut the Hurricane lead to five, 14-9.
As the third quarter came to a close, the Gators defense was in full control of the game, as they forced the Hurricane offense into punt after punt. The only problem with that was that the Gators offense couldn't really do much with the chances they were given, either.
At the end of the third quarter the score remained a 14-9 Hurricane lead with the 'Canes driving after a missed tackle by Loucheiz Purifoy.
In the fourth quarter, the Gators relied on the tried and true method of pounding the rock. Early in the fourth quarter, Jones finally broke off a big run, but it was called back on Tyler Moore's third holding penalty of the day. Moore, who transferred from Nebraska last year, has largely been seen as a disappointment to this point.
The biggest play of the game for Florida came with a little under ten minutes to go, as Vernon Hargreaves III picked off a Stephen Morris pass and returned it roughly 20 yards into Hurricane territory. On the ensuing drive, the Gators began to march down the field, but a bad throw by Driskel resulted in an interception.
After yet another stop by the defense the Gators turned the ball over yet again, for the fifth time. Miami would add a touchdown following the interception, and the Gators would end up responding with a touchdown of their own late, but I don't care what the stats are or who did what at this point.
The Gators wouldn't recover the onside kick, and for all intents and purposes, the game was largely over by the time the Gators scored their final touchdown.
When you turn the ball over five times, you don't deserve to win the game.