TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The University of Florida football team capped its regular season with a 31-7 loss to Florida State in front of 82,324 fans that snapped the Gators’ six-game winning streak in the series and its three-game streak at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Gators led 7-3 early in the second quarter, but were unable to overcome four turnovers as the Seminoles scored 28 unanswered points to take control. Florida’s record dropped to 7-5 on the season and Florida’s record in rivalry games (Tennessee, Georgia, Miami, Florida State) is now 17-2 under head coach Urban Meyer.
Redshirt freshman Andre Debose (Sanford, Fla.) led the Gators with 125 all-purpose yards, including a 62-yard kickoff return that served as the catalyst for Florida’s first quarter touchdown. It is his third game with 125 or more all-purpose yards this season.
The Gators outrushed the Seminoles 212-112, spearheaded by redshirt freshman Jordan Reed (New London, Conn.) who carried the ball 12 times for 74 yards. Redshirt junior Chris Rainey (Lakeland, Fla.) ran for 73 yards, junior Jeffery Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) chipped in 44 and freshman Trey Burton (Venice, Fla.) added 31 for the Orange and Blue.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (Olney, Md.) led the Florida defense with a game-high nine tackles. It is his fourth game this season with at least eight tackles. Senior defensive end Justin Trattou (Ramsey, N.J.) collected six tackles with two for a loss while senior strong safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland, Fla.) had six tackles and a pass break-up. The Gators held Florida State leading rusher Chris Thompson to 42 yards on 17 carries for a 2.5-yard average. He entered the game averaging 7.8 yards a carry.
The Seminoles opened the scoring with a Dustin Hopkins 38-yard field goal on their opening drive. On the ensuing possession, the Gators responded, taking advantage of a 62-yard kickoff return by Debose that set them up at the Florida State 32. Debose’s return was his third this season in excess of 60 yards. Five plays later, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley (Ocala, Fla.) found freshman Robert Clark (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) in the right flat on third-and-11 and Clark turned the short completion into a 20-yard touchdown reception, giving the Gators a 7-3 lead. It was Clark’s first career touchdown catch and it was also his longest reception of the season.
Florida State regained the lead by capitalizing on a second quarter fumble by Rainey, who appeared to be on his way to picking up a first down, when he lost the ball at Florida’s 17-yard line. Seminole running back Lonnie Pryor found the endzone two plays later from nine yards out to put FSU in front 10-7.
On the Gators’ next possession, a Jordan Reed 12-yard run was followed by three plays that left them five yards short of a first down. On fourth down, senior punter Chas Henry (Dallas, Ga.) attempted to run for a first down on a fake punt and was stopped a yard shy of the marker. It was the first time in nine fake punt attempts during Urban Meyer’s tenure that the Gators failed to pick up a first down. Christian Ponder hit Rodney Smith for a 39-yard touchdown on the next play from scrimmage, giving the Seminoles a 17-7 edge.
After a Florida three-and-out the following drive, the Seminoles embarked on a 12-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard strike from Ponder to Taiwan Easterling that extended FSU’s lead to 24-7 that completed the first half scoring.
Coming out of intermission, the Florida offense went three-and-out and Florida State put together a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Ponder’s third touchdown pass—a 29-yarder to Willie Haulstead, as the Seminoles went ahead by 24.
Each team had three scoreless possessions to close out the game.