On senior night at the Swamp, the University of Florida had little to celebrate. Florida State took advantage of short fields and costly turnovers to defeat Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time since 2003, taking a 21-7 decision.
The Seminoles (8-5, 5-3 ACC) capitalized four Florida (6-6, 3-5 SEC) interceptions and won despite amassing just 95 yards of total offense. Florida State got all 21 points off of turnovers, returning an interception for a touchdown and driving just 20 and 4-yards for their two other scores.
Florida State grabbed a 14-0 halftime lead, intercepting John Brantley three times in the opening half. Florida had 140 yards of offense, but after Brantley was injured late in the first half, the Gators were able to muster very little in the second half, totaling just 44 yards of offense over the final 30 minutes.
On the Gators second drive, disaster struck for the Gators when Brantley was picked off deep in Gator territory by Greg Reid who returned it to the 20 on his first of two picks in the first half. On third-and-goal at the Florida 2-yard line, the Gators stopped Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel shy of the goal line, but a personal foul was called on Ronald Powell resulting in a first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. A play later Devonta Freeman gave the Seminoles a 7-0 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
The Gators finally put together a strong drive near the end of the first quarter after Brantley hit A.C. Leonard on a 24-yard pass to the Florida State 33-yard line. Moments later, however, Brantley floated a pass into coverage and Mike Harris returned it 89 yards to the Florida 4-yard line. Freeman added his second 1-yard touchdown run two plays later and Florida State grabbed a 14-0 lead with 14:24 left in the first half.
Florida rebounded with its best drive of the game, marching deep into Florida State territory, but ultimately coming up short again. Florida rolled the dice, setting up for a long Caleb Sturgis field goal with a fourth-and-2 at the Florida State 27, but using a Trey Burton fake to scoop up the first down and extend the drive. Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Florida State 15-yard line, the Gators once again gambled but disaster struck this time, as Burton was dropped for a 14-yard loss.
Florida State nearly added to its lead in the third quarter, but Dustin Hopkins pushed a 50-yard field goal attempt wide left. The Seminoles had started the drive at the Gators’ 39 yard line after a 39-yard punt return by Reid.
Early in the fourth quarter Brissett tried to avoid a sack and forced a throw that Terrance Parks picked off and returned 29 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 12:20 remaining.
Florida avoided its first shutout since 1988 when Brissett found Quinton Dunbar in the back of the end zone with 4:16 remaining to cut the lead to 21-7. The Gator touchdown was set up when Jaye Howard recovered a fumble at the Florida State 21-yard line.
Brantley finished 9-of-15 passing for 104 yards, but three costly interceptions. Brissett finished 4-of-13 passing for 27 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Gators finished with 184 yards of total offense, 130 passing and just 54 rushing. In his final game in the Swamp, Chris Rainey had a team-high 15 carries for just 42 yards. A.C. Leonard led Florida in receiving with three receptions for 65 yards while Dunbar also had three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.