GAINESVILLE – Mike Gillislee scored a pair of second half touchdowns and No. 10/11 Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC) rallied in the second half once again for a 14-6 victory over No. 3/4 LSU (5-1, 1-1 SEC) in a match-up of top 10 teams at the Swamp.
LSU led early, getting a pair of field goals from Drew Alleman, but for the third time in four SEC games, the Gators made the necessary adjustments in the locker room at seized control in the second half.
After trailing 6-0 at the half, the Gators took their first drive of the third quarter and marched 85 yards on eight plays to take the lead on Gillislee’s 12-yard touchdown run. The Gators came up with another long, well executed drive of 77 yards on 11 plays and got a second 12-yard touchdown run from Gillislee to take a 14-6 lead with 13:18 left in the game, all the scoring they would need.
After posting just 47 yards of offense in the first half, Florida finished with 237, including 176 on the ground against an LSU defense that entered allowing just 86 yards per game on the ground.
Gillislee finished with 146 yards on 34 carries.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half as defense and special teams dominated the first half. The two teams combined for just 128 yards of offense in the first half– 81 by LSU and just 47 by Florida. Gator punter Kyle Christy pinned the Tigers inside their own 10-yard line three times in the first half. After LSU’s opening drive, Florida has forced the Tigers to five three-and-outs, an interception by Jaylen Watkins and a critical stop after LSU took over at the Gators’ 7-yard line.
LSU took the opening kick and moved 64 yards on 10 plays, mixing efficient passing and timely running. Zach Mettenberger hit 4-of-5 passes on the opening drive for 47 yards including a 20-yarder to Spencer Ware and a 13-yard pass to Nic Jacobs.
Facing a third-and-10 a the UF 21 yard line Mettenberger hit J.C. Copeland with a 7-yard gain but he came up shy of the first down. Moments later Alleman trotted on the field and connected from 31 yards out to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 10:48 left in the first quarter.
After starting out with an efficient drive, Mettenberger completed just seven of his final 20 passes, finishing 11-of-25 for 161 yards and an interception.
The Gators missed a gold opportunity to get back into the game in the second quarter after Watkins intercepted Mettenberger in LSU territory and returned it to the Tigers’ 38. Florida marched backwards, however, and was forced to punt.
Florida appeared poised to at worst tie the game, marching to the LSU 22-yard line. Driskel hit Jordan Reed for a 14-yard pass, then also came up with runs of 17 and 10 yards to march the Gators into scoring position. The drive was halted, however, when Driskel hit Frankie Hammond with a short pass, and Hammond took a strong hit from Kevin Minter and fumbled, LSU recovered and ended the Gator threat.
With just over two minutes remaining in the half, disaster struck for the Gators. Driskel didn’t unload the ball and the Tigers made him pay for it. Bennie Logan sacked Driskel who fumbled, the ball rolled all the way to the UF 7-yard line where Barkevious Mingo recovered setting up the Tigers second score. After a strong defensive stand by the Gators, Alleman trotted on for a 21-yard field goal with :24 left in the half that sent the game into the locker room with LSU leading 6-0.
The defensive stand for the Gators was a possible turning point, as despite the Gators’ offensive struggles, they trailed by less than a touchdown heading into the locker room, a deficit that could have been worse.
On the Gators second possession of the second half things started to click. Driskel hit Jordan Reed with a 14-yard slant on the first play. Gillislee capped the 85-yard drive with his 12-yard touchdown run to give Florida its first lead.
On the ensuing drive, LSU appeared to respond strongly. Mettenberger hit Odell Beckham with a 56-yard pass to the Florida 23-yard line but appeared to fumble. The review showed that Matt Elam forced the ball out and De’Ante Saunders recovered and the threat was ended.
The Gators then rode Gillislee all the way to the end zone again, as his second 12-yard touchdown run of the game capped an 11-play, 77-yard drive that ate up nearly six minutes off the clock to grab a 14-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
It was Gillislee’s sixth and seventh rushing touchdowns of the season.
Florida controlled the ball for 37:24 overall and most of the second half. The Gators got the ball back with just under four minutes remaining and ran the clock down to :20 before punting. LSU got the ball back with :09 left and attempted one last trick play but a lateral was fumbled, Florida fell on it and came up with its first win over a top-five team since 2009.