With bowl eligibility on the line at The Swamp today, the Florida Gators came out running against the Georgia Southern Eagles much in the same way they did last week against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Only this time the Gators weren't quite as successful.
Instead, Florida found itself in a brawl, and one it lost, 26-20, despite a desperate rally including a Sklyer Mornhinweg throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Patton to tie the game at 20 late in the fourth quarter.
Yes, you did indeed read that correctly.
Despite being out-gained by over 200 yards at the time, the Gators stormed back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game on the arm of Mornhinweg. It was a thing of beauty and something we haven't seen from the Gators' offense in weeks.
But it wasn't enough.
Georgia Southern responded quickly with a touchdown of their own to regain the lead. They would miss their second extra point of the day and take a 26-20 lead with just under three minutes to play.
With a bowl game on the line, the Gators responded with a valiant comeback attempt, but fell just short as Mornhinweg's final pass attempt fell incomplete as time expired. The previous pass to Quinton Dunbar was probably the best chance for the Gators, but Mornhinweg's throw was too high.
As for the stats, well, it's obvious that without the playmakers the Gators so desperately need they were over-matched by a Eagles team that was operating a triple option attack. The Eagles attempted three passes all game and never completed one. They did run through the Gators' defense, though, to the tune of 429 yards. That includes the dropped snap on a punt that resulted in a loss of over 20 yards.
Mornhinweg had his best game as a Gator with two touchdowns and over 120 yards passing, trumping last week's slightly less successful outing. Those aren't the gaudy numbers that we're used to seeing, but over the past few years, we've seen the smaller totals quite a bit. Kelvin Taylor led the Gators on the ground, with 22 carries for 90 yards.
The leading receiver was Patton, who ended the day with four catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
What's up next for the Gators, you ask? Aside from a visit by our friends from up north next week. I don't think anybody knows. There are serious questions that this Gators program must ask themselves. Chief among them: Are these the coaches and players that we're going to move forward with?
Nobody knows the answers to that question, and the rest that will come, just yet. Nobody will for a while. It's best to take a step back and re-evaluate things at a later date. The worst decisions are usually those that were made in an emotional state.
As for now, let's just miss the extra practices that this team could have gotten by attending a bowl game.