The battle of bowl eligibility is here. And it was quite an ugly game between the Florida State Seminoles (5-7, 4-4 ACC) and the Florida Gators (6-6, 2-6 SEC). This one had Florida defeating their in-state rival Florida State, 24-21.
Florida State won the toss and deferred the option to the second half.
On the Gators first drive, both UF quarterbacks made an appearance; but on a 3rd and short, Anthony Richardson was injured. After going 8 plays for 28 yards, Florida was left with a 3rd and 9 and Emory Jones was able to find Kemore Gamble up the sideline for a 47 yard touchdown.
UF was on the board first, and led 7-0.
The Seminoles' offense didn't make the start any better. As they went three and out, and FSU QB Jordan Travis looked to be injured after being sacked on 3rd down.
Then, on 4th and 15, FSU punter Alex Mastromanno had one of his worse efforts of the season and the ball was shanked out of bounds at FSU's 45 yard line.
However, the 'Noles' defense was able to force the Gators to punt after running three plays that didn't gain a single yard.
FSU took possession back over at the 10 yard line.
Florida State was able to get something going here with some chunk plays. A 17 yard completion to Ja'Khi Douglass and a 13 yard run by Jordan Travis set the 'Noles up in UF territory for the first time this game. But, Jordan Travis' injury caught up with him and Head Coach Mike Norvell was forced to sub in graduate transfer McKenzie Milton. The first play with Milton in the game resulted in a 16 yard loss after he could not catch the snap and had to dive on the ball at the FSU 40 yard line. The drive stalled after that and the 'Noles punted the ball back to Florida.
Following a 62 yard punt from Alex Mastromanno, the Gators took over at their own 4 yard line. They were able to get one first down on the drive, but then punted back to the Seminoles.
FSU's offense faced an early 3rd and 8, and McKenzie Milton overthrew an open Ja'Khi Douglass and UF DB Rashad Torrence II intercepted the pass at the UF 44 yard line.
However, on the first play of UF's next drive, QB Emory Jones gave it right back to the 'Noles as FSU DB Jammie Robinson picked off a bad pass over the middle.
On the ensuing FSU drive, freshman Tate Rodemaker was subbed in at quarterback for the 'Noles. The Seminoles went three and out on this drive.
Florida took over at their own 22 yard line. Facing a 3rd and 4, Emory Jones found Kemore Gamble for a 25 yard gain, then Emory Jones ran for 12 yards the following play. UF was inside Florida State's 40 yard line. Then, two plays later, Emory Jones' pass was intercepted by FSU LB Kalen Deloach, and the 'Noles took back over.
This time, Jordan Travis was back in at quarterback. And man, did he look fine.
After a pass interference by the Gators on the second play of the drive, FSU was near midfield at their own 48. A few plays later, Jordan Travis found a wide open Andrew Parchment in the middle of the field for 26 yards. Then, Jordan Travis had an incredible scramble for 15 yards inside UF's 10 yard line. The following play was another Jordan Travis scramble were he found the end zone for Florida State's first touchdown of the game.
The 'Noles have tied this one up at 7 apiece.
The next Gator drive was a long one that had four 3rd down conversions. It went for 15 plays down to the FSU 9 yard line. Then, on the 16th play of the drive, Emory Jones threw his third interception in three drives. This one went to FSU CB Jarvis Brownlee and FSU took over at their own 20 with 29 seconds to go.
FSU was able to get down the field fast, and was at UF's 39 yard line with 9 seconds left and a timeout. The next play was a Jordan Travis scramble which took up the remainder of the time.
At halftime, the score was tied at 7 in an ugly contest.
FSU came out of the half and started with the ball at the 35 yard line after the UF kickoff went out of bounds. But the 'Noles couldn't capitalize on the good field position and punted the ball away. The punt was returned to UF's 45 yard line and was aided by a targeting call on FSU WR Darion Williamson.
UF was starting their first drive of the half at FSU's 40 yard line.
After a bad throw by Emory Jones on 2nd and 8, Anthony Richardson was subbed into the game at quarterback for the Gators. Richardson converted the third down with a 14 yard pass to Jacob Copeland, and UF was in the red zone after a 5 yard rush by Richardson. The Seminole defense was able to keep them out of the end zone and the Gators settled for a field goal.
UF had retaken the lead, 10-7.
After a holding was called during FSU's kickoff return, the 'Noles faced bad field position starting at their own 9 yard line. But they got out of the poor position after an incredible, one-handed catch by FSU WR Ontaria Wilson. Which got the Seminoles to the 45 yard line. A few chunk plays later got FSU inside of Florida's 30 yard line. Facing a 3rd and 9, Jordan Travis dropped back to pass, but was sacked by Florida's Brenton Cox Jr. Florida State ended up punting and pinned the Gators at their own 1 yard line.
Florida was stuffed on 3rd and 2 and were forced to punt. But the Gators got some help from FSU after Ontaria Wilson muffed the punt and Florida recovered at FSU's 33 yard line. Then, Jermaine Johnson showed everyone why he is a projected first round pick and he sacked Anthony Richardson forcing the Gators into a 3rd and 21. Then, two missed tackles by the 'Noles resulted in Florida picking up the first down. The Gators scored a few plays later on a 5 yard pass to Justin Shorter.
UF was now leading the 'Noles 17-7 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Then, two plays into the next FSU drive, the Gators intercepted a pass on a deep ball where it looked like the ball hit the ground, but the call for an interception stood. The Gators took back over at their own 38 yard line.
The Gators all but put this thing away after they ran 10 straight times and scored a touchdown to push the lead to 17 points with 12:36 left in the game.
Florida State did their best to comeback against all odds and went right down the field on their next drive to bring the Florida lead down to 10 with just under ten minutes remaining.
FSU also stopped the Gators on their next drive and had the ball with just under eight minutes remaining. But, FSU failed to get anything going and punted back to Florida with 5:12 remaining and 3 timeouts left.
After stopping Florida again, FSU took over at their own 8 yard line. A big completion to Ja'Khi Douglass for 23 yards got the 'Noles going. Florida State fought all the way down to Florida's 2 yard line, but got called for a pass interference pushing them back to the 17 yard line. Then, a personal foul on UF got FSU back inside the 10 with 1:03 left in the game. Jordan Travis then completed a pass to Ontaria Wilson for a touchdown.
FSU had fought back and only trailed by 3 with :49 seconds left and 2 timeouts remaining.
The 'Noles needed to recover an onside kick to have a chance to win or tie this game.
Unfortunately, FSU kicker Parker Grothaus missed the ball on his onside attempt and the Gators had possession of the ball. Putting this one officially out of reach for the 'Noles.
In a game where both teams were fighting for bowl eligibility, we saw the Florida Gators (6-6, 2-6 SEC) defeat the Florida State Seminoles (5-7, 4-4 ACC), 24-21. This would be the last game of the season for Florida State. After starting out 0-4, the 'Noles were able to build momentum and end their season going 5-3 in their last eight games. These players never quit this season, and they had many chances to do so. Which is something everyone should be proud of this team for.
A good season to build off for the 'Noles; and about a year from now, we could be talking about this program in a completely different way. This team will only get better after this year, and fans should be excited about the direction of the program. Until next year FSU fans.