- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida remained unbeaten at home, but it wasn't easy or without high drama.
After heavy underdog Louisiana-Lafayette scored 17 unanswered points in the second half Saturday, the Gators finally came to life with a late touchdown-scoring drive to tie the score and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown with two seconds left in the game to win 27-20.
Game ball goes to: Purifoy, who recorded his second blocked punt of the season. He also had a block against Missouri on Nov. 3.
Stat of the game: ULL’s pass defense was ranked 114th nationally (294.6 yards per game), but Florida could manage only 162 yards passing.
How the game was won: Florida coach Will Muschamp used a timeout with 13 seconds remaining to force Louisiana-Lafayette to punt instead of allowing the clock to run out and go to overtime.
QB controversy? UF starting QB Jeff Driskel was hurt when he was tackled for no gain on a run over right tackle. He limped off the field and spent time on the sideline getting his bare foot taped. He got his shoe taped, as well, was then taken to the locker room. Driskel had completed 13 of 16 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown and had rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries at the time of his injury.
Best call: The Ragin’ Cajuns had trouble moving the ball in the first half, but they came out in the second half and attacked the Gators on the perimeter in the running game. UF couldn’t keep contain, and ULL was able to march down the field and eat up clock. ULL had a pair of 77-yard scoring drives in the second half (one resulted in a TD, the other a field goal). The Ragin’ Cajuns had 125 total yards in the first half.
Best call 2: It was a play that should have worked for a touchdown, but Florida TE Clay Burton dropped an easy completion. Driskel gave the ball to TE Jordan Reed, who kept running right and zipped the ball to a wide-open Burton in the end zone. The ball bounced off Burton’s chest, and the Gators settled for a field goal and a 13-3 lead. Great play that should have worked.
Unsung hero: ULL defensive coordinator Greg Stewart. UF’s offense isn’t spectacular by any means, but the Gators should have been able to have success against a team giving up 433.2 yards per game. But Stewart’s defense played its best game of the season, especially up front. The defensive line clogged the middle all day long and kept Florida’s running game contained. That should have been good enough for the Ragin’ Cajuns to get their first victory in five tries against the Gators.
Play that should have won the game: The Ragin’ Cajuns stunned the crowd at Florida Field late in the third quarter by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown to take a 17-13 lead. Bradley Brown blocked Kyle Christy’s kick, and Blake Comminie picked it up and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. It was ULL’s first blocked kick of the season.
Second guessing: ULL kicked a 49-yard field goal with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter to tie the score at 3-3. Why not take a chance and go for the first down on fourth-and-5? UF’s offense was sputtering and having a hard time moving the ball, and scoring touchdowns against UF’s defense is not easy. It would have been an aggressive call but worth the gamble.
Second guessing II: ULL took possession at its own 27-yard line with 1:42 remaining in regulation, but the Ragin’ Cajuns played for OT instead of electing to try to get into field goal range. ULL ran the ball three consecutive times, which allowed Muschamp to call timeout.
2dSam Khan Jr.