Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF, Manuel Don't Let This One Slip Away

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF, Manuel Don't Let This One Slip Away

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

GAINESVILLE -- As the national anthem played, the row of University of Florida players and coaches stretching along the west sideline stood motionless.

Except for Marquand Manuel.

Before any game, the senior safety is a bundle of nervous energy. So you can imagine what he was like before this one -- a final shot at Florida State for him and 17 other seniors.

The Seminoles had held boasting rights for 1,081 days and counting, dating back to the start of a three-game FSU streak. And until last night -- a 37-13 victory for Florida at Florida Field -- only one current Gator, guard Zac Zedalis, had played in a victory against the Seminoles.

For the rest of the seniors, this series meant only frustration. Especially for a defense that allowed 83 points in the last three meetings. Especially for a safety from Miami who, as a freshman, had read a Marcus Outzen pass perfectly, broke to the ball and, with only green grass between himself and a touchdown ... watched it go through his hands and into Peter Warrick's for a score the other way.

For three years, Manuel had heard about The Play.

For three years, he and his teammates had heard how they couldn't beat the Seminoles.

"This is our last go-round," he said. "This is it."

He kept using those three words. Kept coming back to them as he talked about what this meant to himself and seniors such as Andra Davis and Alex Brown. Never mind that it was Tuesday, four days before kickoff. He sounded ready to play.

"This is it," he said. "Andra gets no more. Alex gets no more. There is no more. This is it, man."

So as the national anthem played, he couldn't stand still. He stood near the 35-yard line, wearing a stars-and-stripes bandana, bouncing from foot to foot. As the song built -- and the home of the . …

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