With time ticking down in Florida's Saturday night game against East Carolina, the Pirates were down a touchdown and driving, threatening to tie up a game that they had not led since the first quarter.
But quarterback Blake Kemp, so solid for much of the night, fumbled a throw on a third down in the face of a six-man rush, and Florida's Alex McCalister scooped up the ball. Simply falling on the ball — with under 20 seconds remaining, and the Pirates down to one timeout — would have made Florida's victory a matter of successfully kneeling out the clock on offense.
Instead, McCalister took off for the end zone, in pursuit of a touchdown that would have done nothing to affect anything but the final margin of victory.
So Jarrad Davis tackled him.
The University of Florida: Where we not only block our own players, we tackle them when they have the ball. #Gatoring pic.twitter.com/A0gJt1tEHV— TJ Pittinger (@TJ_Pittinger) September 13, 2015
And it was both the right play, and Davis doing as he was taught, as former Florida player Jaylen Watkins identified and noted immediately on Twitter.
Jarrad Davis did what he was coached to do in that particular situation for the people who don't understand smh— Jaylen Watkins (@jwat14) September 13, 2015
After the game, Davis explained his tackle as an extension of Florida's coaching.
It was a situation we've been practicing ever since camp, you know what I'm saying? And it's something that ... you just never know what could happen. And, I mean, you guys didn't think I was going to make the tackle, but that's what I did, you know? It's situational. We've got the lead, the game's over, he could score easily, but we've just been harping on going down in those type of situations — to seal the game, let the offense come out, do the victory (formation). And we can go strike the band up, everybody go home with the W.
While it's arguable whether this was the real best play — McCalister and Davis could have tried to run more clock, or run all the way to East Carolina's goal line before downing the ball, I guess — we've all seen wacky stuff happen on occasion when players who don't typically touch the ball end up running with it.
And while Leon Lett's fumble comes to mind first, sure, even DeSean Jackson's premature celebration is part of the ken of what happens in situations like the one McCalister and Davis found themselves in last night.
So, instead of leaving things up to a teammate, Davis took matters into his own hands. And he apparently even accounted for the possibility of his tackle causing a fumble.
That was scary. That was why I tried to bear-hug him, you know what I'm saying? And it's been going around for a long time — (McCalister) said that, you know, (if) he gets the ball, no one is going to ever tackle him. He didn't expect me coming to get him.
For another program, maybe, this is just a smart (if fun-averse) play by a smart player at the end of a football game. For Florida, which became a national laughingstock because an offensive lineman accidentally blocked a wide receiver on a seven-yard gain in a loss to an FCS opponent two years ago, it's another reason to laugh — and context ruins the joke, with an explanation getting just about one percent of the thousands of retweets and favorites that the original @SBNationGIF tweet got before the tweet ended up "withheld" as of Sunday morning.
Florida's official football account, though, laughed with everyone else.
No context, but still funny. https://t.co/ajIDSkmhxs— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 13, 2015
This is — obviously, I think? — a lot funnier than that original bit of friendly fire, which got its shine largely because few programs in the history of college football have attracted schadenfreude like Florida did in 2013 and because Florida State fans are really, really good at willfully ignoring context for the sake of cheap laughs: When the right play looks silly, laughing while clapping is the appropriate response.
But it says plenty that context ruins jokes.