Saturday November 17, 2001Football Defeats FSU 37-13
Bam Hardmon and Alex Brown corral FSU's Greg Jones.
The Gators opened the first half with a 20-3 lead. The scoring began in the first quarter with runningback Earnest Graham running in from two yards out. The key play in the drive was Jabar Gaffney's 40-yard pass to Graham on a trick play that caught the FSU defense by surprise. "That's a little play we've been working on", said Gaffney. "Coach Spurrier finally called it and it opened up just like he said it would". Grossman also hit Taylor Jacobs with a six yard touchdown pass and Jeff Chandler booted field goals from 36 and 38 yards out.
In the second half, the Gators lost Graham to a knee injury. Backup Robert Gillespie entered the game and turned the ball over on a fumble. FSU drove the ball inside the Florida ten yard line. But FSU shunned the field goal and went for it on fourth and two. Senior safety Marquand Manuel stopped Chris Rix short of a first down after Rix caught a pass from runningback Nick Maddox. But the Gators gave the football right back to FSU when Micheal Bouleware intercepted Grossman and went out of bounds on the Gator 11. Once again, the Gator defense stiffened and FSU had to settle for Xavier Beitia's 23-yard field goal. The Gators led 20-6 and Manuel says that was a key play.
"That series where we stopped them and held them to a field goal, that said alot about our defense" said Manuel, who was playing in his final Florida-Florida State game. "We might not get the recognition, but, that said alot. That was 11 guys out there playing their heart out".
Gaffney caught the clinching touchdown for Florida - a 28-yard grab of a Rex Grossman pass with 8:15 left in the game. It came after FSU scored on a Chris Rix-to-P.K. Sam five yard touchdown pass that cut the Gator lead to 27-13. Grossman threaded the needle between two FSU defenders. For Gaffney, it was his 12th touchdown catch of the season and the 26th of his career. That ties him with Reidel Anthony for fourth place on the all-time list. Chandler closed out the scoring with an 18-yard field goal.
Gator coach Steve Spurrier praised his defensive coordinator John Hoke and the Gator defense. "FSU had to punt eight times.They didn't get much at all. One drive that was it", said Spurrier during his postgame radio interview. "FSU just looked like they didn't have quite a plan. Everything was a scramble play, here and there".
The Gators held FSU to under 50 yards rushing for the night and should have had several interceptions that were dropped. Todd Johnson did hold on to one errant Rix pass in the first half that set up Chandler's first field goal.
For the first time this season Grossman failed to pass for 300 yards. He finished 27 of 42 for 290 yards and two touchdown passes. He also scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Graham rushed for 43 yards on ten carries before injurying his knee. He could miss a couple of weeks. Gillespie was Florida's top rusher with 46 yards on 11 carries.
The Gators have now won nine games in a season for 12 straight years - a new SEC record. The loss dropped FSU to 6-4, their first four loss season since 1986. The Seminoles also suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 1991.
At 9-1, Florida has a bye week before facing Tennessee in the game for all the marbles in the SEC East. The game will be played December first in Gainesville at 4:30 p.m. et.