Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Sports


 
           === Florida defense stymies Mizzou in bounce-back win ===
 
 Gainesville,  FL (Sports Network) - Six times Missouri crossed midfield in the
 second half only to be turned away by a staunch Florida defense.
 
 The  Gators, meanwhile,  found the end zone  twice after halftime on a pair of
 big plays and came away with a 14-7 victory over the Tigers in the Swamp.
 
 Omarius Hines scored the tying touchdown on a 36-yard run in the third quarter
 and Mike Gillislee took a pass 45 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead score
 in  the  fourth, as the  eighth-ranked Gators (8-1,  7-1 SEC) wrapped up their
 conference schedule with a bounce-back win after last week's loss to Georgia.
 
 Florida,  which  closes its  season  with  home  games against  Louisiana  and
 Jacksonville State before traveling to Tallahassee for the annual grudge match
 against  Florida State, can  still win the SEC East and play in the conference
 championship game if Georgia suffers another league loss.
 
 "I  took this job  fully understanding the expectation is to go to Atlanta and
 win  a championship,"  Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "We made strides
 and we are not where we want to be, but we won the close games this year."
 
 Missouri  (4-5,  1-5) was coming off  its first-ever SEC win last week against
 Kentucky  and lost for  the third time in four games. James Franklin threw for
 236  yards  and was intercepted  four times  in defeat, while Kendial Lawrence
 scored the only Tiger touchdown in the second quarter.
 
 Trailing  7-0 early in the second half, Florida pinned Missouri inside its own
 five  with a  punt and appeared to  have a safety when Lawrence was tackled in
 the  end  zone. Officials ruled forward  progress to the 1-yard line, however,
 but  the Gators  quickly forced a punt  and scored two plays after the kick to
 tie it when Hines broke off his long touchdown run.
 
 Missouri  followed with a march inside the Florida 10, but it soon stalled and
 the  Gators came up with a blocked field goal to keep it even. The Tigers then
 drove  to the Florida 27 with their next possession, but Franklin overthrew an
 open  receiver  near the goal line  and Matt Elam returned the interception 42
 yards to the Florida 46.
 
 The  Gators immediately  had a  long  touchdown pass  wiped out  by a  holding
 penalty,  but struck  again just  a few  moments later  when Gillislee  took a
 screen  pass and wove  through the Missouri defense to the end zone for a 14-7
 lead just under 90 seconds into the fourth.
 
 Florida's  defense, though,  had to come up  big the rest of the way while the
 Gator offense continued to sputter.
 
 Missouri  drove to  the Florida 24 on  its next series, but went backward from
 there  as an  incomplete pass was followed by an intentional grounding penalty
 and  a sack to force a punt. The Tigers again crossed midfield with their next
 possession, but punted after a third-down pass fell harmlessly incomplete.
 
 After  a  punt return gave  Missouri the ball at  the Florida 45, Franklin was
 picked  off by Jonathan  Bostic on the first play. The 24-yard return gave the
 Gators  a chance to  put the game away, but backup kicker Brad Phillips missed
 badly on a 24-yard field goal try with 1:49 remaining.
 
 The  Tigers quickly moved  from their own 20 into the Florida end of the field
 with  under a minute left and faced fourth down from the 21 with 11 seconds to
 play.  Franklin  went for the end  zone and found Florida's Josh Evans waiting
 for the Gators' fourth interception of the day to seal it.
 
 "We can't turn the ball over four times," Franklin said.
 
 It wasn't an offensive showcase.
 
 Franklin  completed  24-of-51 passes  in defeat,  while Lawrence finished with
 just 34 yards on 18 carries. The Tigers did outgain the Gators, 335-276.
 
 Gillislee  ran  for only 68  yards for Florida, which  managed a mere 11 first
 downs.  Jeff  Driskel threw for  only 106 yards  on 12-of-23 efficiency in the
 victory.
 
 After a scoreless first quarter, during which each team crossed midfield once,
 the Gators picked up the first turnover of the game when Jaylen Watkins picked
 off  an overthrown Franklin pass and returned the interception 16 yards to the
 Missouri 19. The Tigers, though, forced Florida backward and Caleb Sturgis had
 a 47-yard field goal attempt blocked.
 
 Missouri  recovered a  Gillislee fumble inside Florida territory a few minutes
 later  and converted the  turnover into a 7-0 lead when Lawrence scored from a
 yard away with 6:10 left in the first half.
 
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 This  marked  the second  meeting between  the teams.  Missouri won the first,
 20-18,  in the  Sugar Bowl after the  1965 season ... Florida hadn't allowed a
 touchdown  in  three home conference  games before Lawrence scored ... Florida
 has  15  interceptions in nine games,  nearly doubling its total of eight from
 the 2011 season ... Missouri visits Tennessee next Saturday.
 
 11/04 00:28:56 ET