Photo: Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins running toward end zone for game-winning TD.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators have their share of comeback wins this season, but not one like Saturday’s 27-20 victory over Louisiana.
In fact, the Gators have never had a comeback like the turnaround they pulled off against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Florida overcame a 20-13 deficit by scoring two touchdowns in the final 1 minute, 42 seconds.
The game-tying score came with 1:42 left when quarterback Jacoby Brissett connected with Quinton Dunbar for a 3-yard touchdown pass.
After Louisiana failed to pick up a first down on the ensuing drive, Gators coach Will Muschamp called a timeout with 13 seconds left, forcing the Ragin’ Cajuns to punt when it appeared the game was headed to overtime.
You know what happened next. Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy blocked Brett Baer’s punt. Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins caught the block on the fly and returned it 36 yards for the game-winning touchdown with two seconds remaining.
In research available in the press box after the game, Florida’s sports-information staff confirmed that it was the first time since at least 1966 that the Gators scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of a game to win.
More research over the weekend by the SID staff and UF sports historian Norm Carlson confirmed that Saturday’s win was the first time in school history the Gators had accomplished the feat.
As for comeback wins at Florida Field, the one many longtime Gator fans consider perhaps the best in school history came on Nov. 1, 1986.
The Gators trailed Auburn 17-0 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Kerwin Bell, who had missed almost a month with a knee injury, replaced Rodney Brewer at quarterback earlier in the game.
Bell capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge with 12:09 left to play. The Gators trimmed the lead to 17-10 on a 51-yard field goal from Robert McGinty, an Auburn transfer. Finally, with Auburn consuming more than five minutes off the clock and driving deep in Florida’s territory, Webbie Burnett recovered a fumble at Florida’s 34.
That’s when Bell went to work on a seven-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel with 36 seconds remaining.
Gators coach Galen Hall then opted to go for the win instead of settling for a tie, calling Bell’s number. Bell ran in the two-point conversion for an 18-17 Florida victory.
More recently, UF scored 14 points in a span of 1:31 during a 24-21 come-from-behind win over Kentucky on Sept. 27, 2003, in which they trailed 21-3 entering the fourth quarter.
However, those scores came before the game’s final two minutes:
Fourth quarter at Kentucky:
14:55 UF - Perez,C. 3 yd pass from Leak,C. (Leak,C. pass failed), 9-83 3:22, UF 9 - UK 21
04:46 UF - Perez,C. 10 yd pass from Leak,C. (Leach,M. kick), 5-28 1:25, UF 16 - UK 21
03:15 UF - Carthon,R. 1 yd run (Kight,K. pass), 2-1 0:37, UF 24 - UK 21