Gators freeze, again: Tigers offense tears Florida apart

On Tom Petty Day, the sounds of “I Won’t Back Down” echoed throughout Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. After the first chorus, Petty’s family was honored on the court.

Immediately at the start of the second verse, the LSU marching band blared out the school fight song. Whether it’s the Tigers’ horn disrespect or the energy of the moment, the Florida Gators have found new life.

Led by redshirted second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson, the Gators scored two quick touchdowns to cut the Tigers’ lead to seven. A shocked Florida defense faced a fourth-and-one to squeeze out the LSU offense from the field and give Richardson a chance to tie the game.

A strong push from the Tigers offensive line gave the visitors just enough, and a spirited comeback effort was not to be for the Gators. The Florida Gators (4-3, 1-3 SEC) fell at home to the Louisiana State Tigers. (5-2, 3-1 SEC) 45-35 after a surge late in the fourth quarter. The Gators dropped their fourth straight against the Tigers. LSU racked up a staggering 528 rushing yards and scored touchdowns on each of its first six drives of the game.

Things started quickly for the Gators.

As the game kicked off, freshman running back Trevor Etienne found a way down the right side and put Florida on their own 48-yard line. Two plays later, redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson uncorked a deepfield pass into the arms of redshirt junior receiver Justin Shorter for a 51-yard touchdown.

“It was one of the pieces we worked on all week,” Richardson said.

At the ensuing LSU practice, Florida’s suspect third defense reared its ugly head. Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels backed into the pocket and threw a passing field for a 40-yard gain on LSU’s first third.

On a third-and-15 at Florida’s 27-yard line, Daniels rammed it into Boutte again near the line to win, but was stopped just short of it. LSU head coach Brian Kelly kept his offense on the field on fourth down, and the Tigers kept the practice alive.

Two plays later, Daniels found senior running back John Emery wide open for a touchdown to tie the score.

Florida kept the ball on the ground for its next drive and the Tigers were powerless to stop it. Louisiana native Sophomore Montrell Johnson exploded down the left side of the offensive line and passed the LSU secondary for 39 yards.

The Tigers continued to move the ball against the Gators through the air. Daniels completed another field pass to Boutte for a 21-yard gain and LSU continued to roll inside Florida’s red zone.

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From the UF 1-yard line, Daniels kept it himself and rushed it into the end zone for another Tigers touchdown.

The LSU defense ultimately held firm against the Florida offense, forcing the Gators to push it back. However, the Tiger’s terrible special teams unit couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Kick returner Jack Bech missed the punt deep in his own territory and Florida long snapper Rocco Underwood pounced on the loose ball, establishing possession at the LSU 13-yard line.

Johnson hit it for the Gators from 3 yards out and restored UF’s lead.

Florida’s defense almost showed some life on LSU’s next possession, but they couldn’t get off the field on third down. Daniels sat comfortably in the pocket before firing a strike on wide open tight end midfielder Kole Taylor for a 26-yard conversion.

Daniels continued to torch the Gators secondary, dropping a dime on Florida cornerback Jalen Kimber’s header to wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. for a 24-yard touchdown.

The Tigers defense held Florida at bay and forced a punt after linebacker Micah Bakersville headed home on a whirlwind third down and sacked Richardson. Despite a booming 62-yard punt from Jeremy Crawshaw to turn the field around, the Gators couldn’t slow LSU’s offense.

Two quick hits advanced LSU to Florida’s 44-yard line. Daniels once again tore up the UF secondary, finding a wide open Jaray Jenkins on the right sideline for a 54-yard touchdown.

With all the momentum on the visitors’ side, Florida took the field looking to add one more score before halftime. Richardson kicked things off, rolling to his left and finding wide receiver Ricky Pearsall open for a 20-yard gain.

The Tigers suppressed it, however, and the Gators couldn’t move the ball down. After a short run at Johnson, Napier opted not to call a timeout, allowing most of the remaining clock to run out.

With a second to go in the half, Richardson ran trying to buy time for a Hail Mary attempt, only to have his pass float out of bounds well short of the end zone.

“You’re in a two-minute mayday situation where there’s a certain level of aggression that you’re going to use depending on off-court position,” Napier said of his clock management to close out the mid. -time.

LSU started the second half with possession and continued to roll Florida’s defense. On the first play of the third quarter, running back Josh Williams tore through the heart of the UF defense for a 50-yard gain, breaking several tackles along the way.

Daniels scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from nine yards out, giving the Tigers a two-touchdown lead.

Needing a touchdown to stay within range, Richardson and the Florida offense got to work. A 14-yard strike to Shorter started the drive and a 29-yard catch and run for Ricky Pearsall put the Gators deep in LSU territory.

On a crucial third down, little-used redshirt junior Lorenzo Lingard received a pass into the flat and fought on contact to gain six yards and pick up the first down.

Facing fourth down at the LSU 14-yard line, Richardson backed up and immediately looked for Shorter in midfield. Richardson’s pass too far in front of his receiver and fell harmlessly to the turf and the Gators gave the ball back to the Tigers.

Daniels and the LSU offense continued to do what they’ve been doing all night: move the ball on the Florida defense. The Tigers faced a 3rd-and-6 near midfield, but the Gators conceded another long conversion and LSU moved the chains again.

The Tigers quarterback capped off the drive with a nine-yard rushing score — his sixth touchdown of the night — ending Florida’s night.

After a feud between the Florida faithful and the LSU group, the Gators took the field for the final stanza of the evening. Richardson went wild and produced a moment for the ages.

The Florida caller found room to run down the left side of the field. A host of Tiger defensive backs nearly brought down Richardson, but the Gainesville product only seemed to get stronger, and he quickly sped past the defenders for an 81-yard touchdown.

“I can’t credit it enough for kind of flipping the switch and being a great competitor,” Napier said. “You can see it in his eyes, he wears his heart on his sleeve.”

It was the third longest touchdown by a Gator since 1996 and the longest by a quarterback in the same span.

The Gators defense finally held on and forced LSU to their first punt of the night.

Richardson and the Florida offense continued to find a groove and walked the field inside LSU’s red zone. UF faced a must-see third down on the Tigers 10-yard line. Etienne found room to maneuver in the middle of the defense and ran to the one-yard line.

On the next play, the native of Jennings, Louisiana hit it to put the Gators within a score.

With LSU on the move again, Florida’s secondary — which had been apart all night — finally intensified. Sophomore cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. intercepted Daniels’ pass deep in the field, seemingly giving the Gators a great shot to tie the game.

Only it shouldn’t be. Junior defensive tackle Gervon Dexter was flagged for roughing the passer and the pick was wiped out.

The defense had another chance to force the Tigers off the field: a fourth-and-one on Florida’s 27-yard line. LSU slammed the ball into the heart of the Gators’ defense, and it was just enough to extinguish any hopes of a UF comeback.

Dexter and redshirt senior linebacker Ventrell Miller rallied and forced the Tigers into a long field goal attempt, but redshirt freshman kicker Damian Ramos hit the 47-yard kick to put the game out of scope.

With a ten-point deficit, Richardson took the field once more. Florida’s offense failed to do anything and returned the ball to end the night.

The Gators will be goodbye next week before heading to Jacksonville to face the Georgia Bulldogs on October 29.

Contact Topher Adams at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Topher_Adams.

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a third-year journalism student and football reporter for The Alligator. He also covered Florida Lacrosse for the newspaper and loves watching college football and MLS football.

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