Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU, Florida Play Their Roles Perfectly

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU, Florida Play Their Roles Perfectly

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

TALLAHASSEE | Maybe it was fitting that Florida's final pass to extend a drive - and potentially give lame-duck coach Will Muschamp the parting gift he wanted of upsetting top-ranked Florida State - went off the hands of receiver Demarcus Robinson.

Don't you know it had to end this way for two bitter rivals trending in opposite directions? The manner in which Muschamp and his Gators fell 24-19 to FSU Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, it perfectly defined the season for both programs.

Florida came up short by wasting a ton of scoring opportunities, and the Seminoles somehow extended their nation-leading winning streak to 28 games, despite wildly inconsistent Jameis Winston throwing a career-high four interceptions.

"Survive the day, that's what we did," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I thought our kids were resilient. We made plays when we had to make plays."

And the offensively challenged Gators (6-5), as they are wont to do, kept squandering chances to seize control of a game by repeatedly wasting great field position.

Meanwhile, FSU (12-0) followed the same script it has most of this year - play careless football to start the game, fall behind by two or three scores, and keep alive its quest to repeat as national champions.

The Seminoles find a way to win. The Gators find different ways to kick prosperity to the curb.

How appropriate that the Muschamp era, featuring the most putrid offense at UF in 25 years, ended with this sobering stat: The Gators reached the FSU 13, 35, 21 (twice), 30, 25 and 9-yard lines, yet came away with only 12 points on those seven possessions.

Florida also didn't help itself with moments of complete abandonment of discipline. Reserve defensive lineman Gerald Willis, while standing on the sideline, was flagged 15 yards for hitting Winston after his momentum carried him out of bounds. That led to the second of Winston's touchdown passes to tight end Nick O'Leary.

"If I were still the head coach, [Willis] would be kicked off the team. Ridiculous," Muschamp said.

UF's lack of composure didn't end there. Late in the third quarter, UF receiver Latroy Pittman picked up 25 yards worth of penalties on the same play, one for holding and an unsportsmanlike conduct for mouthing off to an official. That loss of valuable real estate ended with a missed 52-yard field goal that would have given the Gators a 22-21 lead.

"The win was there," UF middle linebacker Michael Taylor said. "We felt on the sideline that victory was within our grasp. We just let it slip away, yet again."

The only time Florida reached the end zone was on a 15-yard TD pass from Treon Harris to tight end Clay Burton. And that came on the play after FSU punter Cason Beatty was smothered by Alex McCalister and fumbled the ball away. …

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