Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It All Changes on the Goal Line; Making Stand Can Reverse Course of Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It All Changes on the Goal Line; Making Stand Can Reverse Course of Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

TALLAHASSEE | The mentality changes on the goal line.

Football is a game of brute force and the rawest of emotions, where manhood and resolve are tested on every play. But nowhere is that more evident than in a close game when an offense has the ball inside the 5-yard line and must score, and the defense must make a stop.

"You've got to have a bunch of dogs in there, people with that mind-set to not let the man in front of them beat them," said Florida State fullback Freddie Stevenson. "You need a whole bunch of soldiers out there."

"Savage mode," said University of Florida defensive end Cece Jefferson of Baker County. "Straight-up savage mode."

It's impossible to know if there will be any goal-line situations on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium when the 15th-ranked Seminoles (8-3) play host to the No. 13 Gators (8-2). But if there are, the faint of heart need not apply. In a rivalry game, with the athletes on the field for both teams, it most assuredly will be a bunch of dogs, fighting as if for the last scrap of meat on a bone.

Jefferson made his comment after last week's game against LSU, won by the Gators 16-10 to clinch the SEC East title and reach the league championship game in Atlanta next week against Alabama. Jefferson was part of the defense that made two goal-line stands that will ring out for ages, one in the third quarter and one at the end of the game.

Jefferson made a key tackle on LSU running back Leonard Fournette for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal at the UF 1 on the first stand, and the Tigers turned the ball over when the snap on a field-goal attempt was botched.

On the next play, Austin Appleby threw a 98-yard touchdown pass to Tyrie Cleveland to give the Gators their first lead of the game.

Florida's Eddy Pineiro kicked two late field goals, but LSU drove from its own 25 to a first-and-goal at the Florida 7 with 50 seconds left. Tigers running back Derrius Guice, a week after shredding Arkansas for 252 yards, ran for 2 yards and was stopped by Kylan Johnson and Jordan Sherit. He then gained 4 yards, and was brought down by Sherit and David Reese, 1 yard short of the goal line. Fullback J.D. Moore was given a chance. He was stopped for no gain on another huge play by Jefferson.

After LSU's final time out, with three seconds left, Guice got the ball on a short toss. He hesitated (coach Ed Orgeron later said Guice ran to the wrong hole) and was swarmed by the Florida defense, with Sherit, Caleb Brantley, Taven Bryan and Marcell Harris getting a piece of the tackle.

"We got a good push ... that's where our line is at its best," Harris said.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, watching ESPN highlights after the Seminoles returned from beating Syracuse 45-14, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi had one thought. …

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