Florida and Iowa had played a rather forgettable first half in the 2017 Outback Bowl on Monday afternoon until late in the second quarter. Then the Gators threw a screen pass to talented but frustrating running back Mark Thompson.
What he did was make a memory.
Thompson’s 85-yard catch-and-run — which featured no fewer than five missed tackles, one of them a result of a fine stiff-arm near midfield — was not just the longest play of the day and his Florida career, but the longest play in Outback Bowl history, eclipsing an 80-yard catch by Georgia’s Tavares King.
For Thompson, who saw his carries dwindle from midseason onward after a rash of fumbles and failures to distinguish himself in a backfield competition won by Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine, it was a big play that reminded the world — and maybe his coaches — how good he can be at his best.
For Florida, it was a crucial touchdown in what seems likely to finish as a low-scoring game.