The Florida Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) fell behind early and despite a valiant effort in the second half, were unable to complete the comeback, falling 23-20 to the Georgia Bulldogs (5-3, 4-2 SEC) Saturday at Everbank Field in Jacksonville.
Georgia jumped out to an early lead, pulling ahead 17-0 by the end of the first quarter. Bulldogs’ running back Todd Gurley, playing in his first game in over a month, scored twice in the first quarter and finished the game with 17 carries for 100 yards and three receptions for 87 yards.
Florida was able to add a Frankie Velez field goal in the second quarter, but trailed 23-3 at the half.
The second half was a completely different game and a couple of impressive plays by the defense helped spark a Gator comeback. On Georgia’s first possession of the second half, Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr picked up a dropped pass that was ruled a fumble. Florida would score a couple of plays later on a five-yard run by Mack Brown.
After trading punts, Florida had Georgia buried deep in their own territory and the defense came up big again when cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy sacked Aaron Murray in the endzone for a safety, cutting the Georgia lead to 23-12.
On Florida’s ensuing possession, Tyler Murphy capped a five-play, 50-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. Murphy then successfully completed a two-point conversion to tight end Clay Burton to cut it to 23-20 Georgia.
The comeback was on, and Florida’s defense came up big yet again, stopping Gurley on a fourth-and-short, but a penalty after the play by linebacker Neiron Ball for removing his helmet set up the Gators’ offense with bad field position. The offense was unable to convert and Georgia got the ball back and ran out the clock.
With the loss Florida is essentially eliminated from the SEC East race. The effort the team put forth to come back and make it a competitive game was a positive and something to build off of. However, there is no such thing as a moral victory for Florida Gators football. The seat under head coach Will Muschamp just got a little bit hotter.