Saturday January 1, 2011Gators Send Meyer Out in Style With 37-24 Outback Bowl Win Over Penn State
The Florida Gators (8-5, 4-4 SEC) defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions, 37-24, in the 2011 Outback Bowl in front of a crowd of 60,574. Senior safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland, Fla.) halted Penn State's drive, with 0:55 left on the clock, with an 80-yard pick six. It was Black's second interception of the game and 13th of his four-year career as a Gator.
The Gators made their 20th-consecutive bowl appearance, the longest active streak in the SEC and the second-longest in the nation. The Gators finished their season with an 8-5 overall record in what was ranked by the NCAA as one of the top 20 toughest schedules of all FBS schools. The New Year's Day win marked the last game of head coach Urban Meyer's career. Meyer will finish his career at Florida with a 65-15 overall record.
The Gator defense came up big with a total of five interceptions by four different players, tying an Outback Bowl record, set in 2010 by Auburn against Northwestern, for most interceptions in a game.
Leading the Gators in passing yards was redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (New London, Conn.) who completed 8 of13 passes for 60 yards. Reed also led the team on the ground with 68 yards and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (Lakeland, Fla.) added six carries for 66 yards. Leading the receiving corps was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines (Corsicana, Texas) with two receptions for 28 yards. Hines was one of three Gators who had over 20-yards receiving.
A strong Florida defense forced Penn State to a three-and-out on its first drive, but the Nittany Lion defense stepped up when cornerback D'Anton Lynn intercepted redshirt junior John Brantley's (Ocala, Fla.) pass on Florida's first play of the game. The interception set up a 61-yard drive and a Penn State touchdown off a five-yard pass from quarterback Matt McGloin to wide receiver Derek Moye. The point-after attempt made the score 7-0.
Black again halted a PSU drive when he had his first interception of the game off a pass by McGloin and took it 49 yards to the PSU 15. However, a fumble by freshman quarterback Trey Burton (Venice, Fla.) into the end zone prevented a Gator score and gave the Nittany Lions possession at the 20-yard line.
In the second quarter, McGloin threw his second interception of the game, as freshman cornerback Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) notched his first career interception. The interception gave the Gators possession at the 15-yard line, putting them in the red zone for the second time of the game. Two plays later, Hines ran for 16 yards and a touchdown to put the Gators on the scoreboard and tie the game at 7-7.
A blocked punt by freshman wide receiver Solomon Patton (Mobile Ala.) allowed redshirt sophomore Lerentee McCray (Ocala, Fla.) to take it home for Florida on a 27-yard touchdown return. (In Urban Meyer's tenure at Florida the Gators are 15-0 when blocking a punt.) The touchdown and extra point by senior kicker Chas Henry (Dallas, Ga.) put the Gators in the lead, 14-7.
The Lions answered the Gators' score with a five-play, 72-yard drive, which resulted in a with a one-yard touchdown up the middle by running back Michael Zordich, tying the game at 14-14. A three-and-out by the Gators forced a punt, which gave the Lions great field possession, UF's 37-yard line. Kicker Collin Wagner connected on a 20-yard field goal to give PSU a 17-14 advantage at the half.
On the Gators second possession of the third quarter the offense capped off a seven-play 38-yard drive with a 20-yard field goal by Henry to tie the game at 17-17.
After an unsuccessful fourth-down conversion attempt PSU took over on downs at the Florida 36 yard line. The Lions scored on a two-yard touchdown run by McGloin, making the score 24-17.The Gators followed the PSU touchdown with a 47-yard field goal by Henry, a career-long and the longest field goal this season by the Gators. The field goal brought the Gators closer to the Lions, 24-20.
The Gator defense again stepped up intercepting McGloin for the third time in the game coming from senior linebacker Brandon Hicks (Jacksonville, Fla.), his first career interception. The Gators capitalized on the interception with a one-yard run by sophomore running back Mike Gillislee (DeLand, Fla.), giving the Gators a fourth-quarter lead with 27-24. A 13-play 54-yard drive was finished off by a 20-yard field goal by Henry lengthened the Gators lead to 30-24.
An 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by Black would would put the Gators up for good, 37-24. The interception was not the last of the game as McGloin was intercepted for a fifth time by redshirt junior cornerback Moses Jenkins (Olney, Md.).