Gators hold off Seminoles to earn bowl bid, 24-21
Quarterback Anthony Richardson entered in relief of Emory Jones and directed three second-half scoring drives Saturday afternoon to lead host Florida to a 24-21 victory over Florida State in Gainesville, Fla.
The Gators (6-6) secured bowl eligibility with the victory and likely denied the Seminoles (5-7) a similar opportunity.
Emory Jones, who suffered an ankle injury in practice earlier in the week, started at quarterback for the Gators. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 163 yards and connected with tight end Kemore Gamble for a 47-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive.
But Florida State intercepted Jones three times in the first half to keep the game close. Richardson came on to complete 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards, but took care of the ball with no turnovers and threw a touchdown pass.
FSU quarterback Jordan Travis battled through injury early in the game to lead the Seminoles to a near comeback, pulling within three on his 7-yard touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson with 44 seconds left in the game.
But FSU’s ensuing onside kick attempt failed and the Gators were able to run out the clock.
Travis completed 18 for 29 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Travis hurt his shoulder on the Seminoles first drive when he was sacked by Florida linebacker Brenton Cox Jr., who had all four of Florida’s sacks. Travis played the ensuing series after getting looked at by team trainers, but had to exit again.
FSU’s next two drives ended with a McKenzie Milton interception and a punt after the Seminoles replaced Milton with redshirt freshman Tate Rodemaker.
Travis returned with 10:09 left in the second quarter and directed a seven-play, 68-yard drive which he capped with a 9-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7 with 6:45 left in the second quarter.
But after the Gators were held to 47 yards rushing in the first half, they gained 103 in the second half, most coming after Richardson entered the game midway through the third quarter.
After Florida gained a 10-7 lead, the Gators cashed in on a muffed punt by FSU receiver Ontaria Wilson. It took Florida seven plays – including a 22-yard pass from Richardson to Malik Davis on third-and-21 – to score on Richardson’s 5-yard pass to Justin Shorter and a 17-7 lead.
Dameon Pierce, who led Florida rushers with 62 yards on 12 carries, scored from 3 yards out to extend the Gators’ lead to 24-7 with 12:36 left in the fourth.
Florida State’s slim bowl hopes reside with the possibility that not enough teams qualify with 6-6 records, allowing for the NCAA to grant exemptions to some 5-7 teams.
–Field Level Media