Gators Shut out Jax State and End Season Undefeated in the Swamp
7th Ranked Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) used a touchdown run from Mike Gillislee, a trio of field goals from Caleb Sturgis and an interception return for a touchdown by Jonathan Bostic to defeat Jacksonville State, 23-0, on Senior Day in the Swamp.With the win, the Gators finished perfect at home in 2012 and 7-0 in the Swamp for just the third time in school history (2006, 2009).Mike Gillislee ran for 122 yards on 20 carries, keying a Gator offense that amassed 356 yards of offense. Florida established the run, rushing 36 times for 202 yards. Matt Jones added 65 yards on eight carries.
Jacoby Brissett, starting in place of the injured Jeff Driskel, finished 14-of-22 passing for 154 yards.
The story of the day was Florida’s defense, which posted its second shutout of the season and limited Jacksonville State to 242 yards, just 38 yards in the second half.
Florida won the kick but deferred to the second half. Jacksonville State nearly pounced on the opportunity.
On the game’s first play Marques Ivory hit Kevyn Cooper for a 76-yard pass that took the Gamecocks all the way from their 17-yard line to the Gators’ 7. The Gators defense stood tall once the Gamecocks got inside the 10-yard line and forced a 25-yard field goal attempt by Griffin Thomas that sailed wide left.
The Gators then put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive, using nearly seven minutes off the clock to take the lead. Florida stuck to the ground on its first drive, running the ball on 11 of 12 plays. Gillislee had eight carries for 35 yards and Matt Jones three carries for 34 yards to lead the way. Gillislee’s 7-yard burst up the middle capped the drive and gave the Gators a 7-0 lead with 6:02 left in the first quarter.
On the Gators’ second possession they marched 61 yards on six plays and got a 21-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis. Key to the drive was a 46-yard run by Gillislee on the drive’s first play to move the Gators to the 19-yard line. The drive stalled at the Gamecocks’ 4-yard line and Sturgis gave the Gators a 10-0 lead with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
Jacksonville State marched 71 yards on 10 plays, taking up over 5:00 of clock in the second quarter, but for the second time they came up short, missing a second field goal when Thomas pushed his second attempt wide right.
Florida appeared to add to its lead when Jacoby Brissett hit Omarius Hines for what was originally ruled a 19-yard touchdown. The play was reviewed and Hines stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line. The Gators then marched backwards to the 10-yard line and were forced to settle for a 27-yard attempt from Sturgis, which was blocked at the scored remained 10-0.
Early in the second half, the Gators added to their lead when Bostic stepped in front of Ivory’s pass and returned it seven yards for his first career interception return for a touchdown to increase the lead to 17-0.Sturgis added his second field goal of the game with 14:06 remaining, connecting on a 44-yard attempt to make it 20-0. The field goal capped an eight-play, 33-yard drive stalled at the Jacksonville State 27-yard line.
After a quick three-and-out, the Gators got a 31-yard punt return from Marcus Roberson down to the Jacksonville State 32-yard line. Unable to put anything together, the Gators settled for a 47-yard field goal from Sturgis to increase the lead to 23-0 with 11:41 to go.
The field goal by Sturgis was his 66th, moving him within one field goal of tying the UF career record.
Florida closes out the regular season at Florida State next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Scott Carter is a Columnist for the UAA and GatorZone.com. Click Here to read more of his work.