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Florida Gators Survive Upset Scare from USF, 31-28

The Florida Gators capitalize off USF miscues to survive a troubling upset scare with a 31-28 victory.

What was expected to be a get-right game for the Gators quickly turned into a near-nightmare for the University of Florida on Saturday night.

However, despite a struggle, the Gators snuck out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a small-margin victory over their in-state counterparts USF, 31-28.

The pivotal turning point of the contest came after an errant interception by Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson — his second of the game — gave USF the ball with just under eight minutes remaining up 8.

On 3rd and 11 from their own 19-yard line, Gerry Bohanon dropped back into the pocket, looking to push a pass beyond the sticks to keep the drive alive. However, considerable pressure from edge rushers Brenton Cox Jr. and Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. forced Bohanon to put the ball up for grabs.

Nickel cornerback Tre'Vez Johnson dove to the ground to come away with the pick, setting Florida up at the USF 28-yard line. Four Travis Etienne rushes later, Florida retook the lead as he pushed his way into the end zone from three yards out.

The Gators went on to win the game on the back of its rushing attack, 31-28, advancing to 2-1 on the year. Montrell Johnson and Etienne carried the load to combine for 159 yards and two scores.

However, the win didn't come without turmoil.

Unlike last week, when the Florida defense supported a sputtering offense to remain in the contest against No. 20 Kentucky, Patrick Toney's unit was a part of the problem.

In the first half, the Bulls presented a nearly unstoppable rushing attack for the Gators, exploiting a defense lacking the most integral piece to the puzzle in the run defense with middle linebacker Ventrell Miller sidelined.

They accounted for over 200 rushing yards in the first 30 minutes alone, averaging 9.8 yards per carry, gashing Florida up the middle and off tackle at ease. 

Luckily for Florida, the unit reconciled its wrongs down the stretch. Jalen Kimber's pick-six gave the Gators a comfortable cushion heading into the break at 24-13.

The rushing attack slowed in the second half, but multiple costly turnovers by Richardson gave the Bulls numerous opportunities to steal an all-time win in The Swamp.

On the first Richardson interception, as he attempted to target wideout Ricky Pearsall over the middle but found him late, Dwayne Boyles Jr. jumped the pass and returned it to the Florida 18.

The Bulls later punched in the ball to pull within three of the Gators. A later score gave the Bulls the lead.

On Richardson's following mental error, under throwing Justin Shorter on a fade route in the red zone, the Bulls took over with the lead and time to kill.

They failed to execute, resulting in Johnson's game-changing interception.

While the Bulls produced a solid drive with time ticking down in the fourth, the clock struck midnight on their Cinderella upset story. With 44 seconds remaining, a low snap that Bohanon could not control went past him, pushing USF back 14 yards to force a 3rd and 20 rather than a 3rd and medium. They gained just two yards on the ensuing third down play and fumbled with the snap on the 48-yard field goal attempt with overtime in the balance.

The miscues by the Bulls aided Florida's escape.

The Gators will head into a raucous environment for the first time this season for a tough SEC East matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers in week four.

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