LSU stuns No. 6 Florida on late field goal
Max Johnson, making his first career start at quarterback, combined with a something-to-prove defense to lead Louisiana State (4-5) to a 37-34 upset of No. 6 Florida (8-2) Saturday night in Gainesville.
Johnson, who had been backing up TJ Finley, helped beat the Gators with his arm and his legs as he ran for 52 yards and went 21-for-36 for 239 yards and three touchdowns passing the ball.
Kayshon Boutte had five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in the win.
The LSU defense, meanwhile, gave up big yardage to Florida’s passing game and its Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Kyle Trask, but also forced Trask into two interceptions — one for a 68-yard pick six by Eli Ricks in the first half — and a fumble.
The Tigers led 24-17 at halftime, gave up the lead in the third quarter at 31-27 and then came back early in the final quarter to take the lead 34-31 when Johnson tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Tre Bradford.
Trask led the Gators on a drive that tied the score with a 31-yard field goal with 2:51 left. But, LSU, with an assist from a bone-headed penalty on third down by Marco Wilson which saw him throw an LSU player’s shoe down the field that gave the Tigers a first down, moved into field goal position.
Tiger kicker Cade York gave his team the win with a 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds left.
The Gators had a shot to tie the game and send it to overtime with a 51-yard FG with 2 seconds left but the kick went wide left.
The victory took a bit of the sting out of a season gone wrong for the defending national champion Tigers (4-5). They entered the game a 23-point underdog.
LSU (4-5) not only lost games this season, but a large handful of key players who have opted out of the season or entered the transfer portal. It had arrived at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with just 54 scholarship players suited up.
The Tigers still have a chance to finish the season at .500 as they host Ole Miss next Saturday. They will not, however, play in a bowl game. During the week, LSU announced it was self-imposing a ban on bowl this year amid an apparent investigation of rules violations by the NCAA.
With the win, LSU stands at 31-33-3 against Florida. Last year, the Tigers beat the Gators 42-28 in Baton Rouge.
Trask, who was averaging 360 passing yards a game this year, and who had passed for a nation leading 38 TDs, ended the night with 474 yards passing and two touchdowns on 29 completions on 47 attempts.
Hampering the Florida passing game was the announcement that star tight end Kyle Pitts was a late scratch. Pitts was averaging 92 yards receiving a game.
In his absence, Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney caught passes for 98 and 182 yards, respectively.
The loss likely means the end of Florida’s hopes to earn a berth in the four-team CFP championship series.
Despite the loss, the Gators will still play for the conference championship. They had already clinched a berth in the SEC championship, where they will play No. 1 Alabama next weekend, but now that game will be played with mostly pride on the line for Florida.
–Field Level Media