<
>
AuburnTigersAUB
4-3, 2-2 Conf
23
Final/OT
ESPN1234OTT
AUB07016023
FLA71060730
30
FloridaGatorsFLA
5-3, 3-2 Conf

Grossman's unlikely TD pass saves Gators

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Rex Grossman never saw his winning
touchdown pass. He heard it.

With his team melting down and the program in peril, Grossman
made one of the best throws of his life Saturday night to save the
season for Florida.

Throwing off his back foot just as he was hit, Grossman hit
Taylor Jacobs for a 25-yard touchdown in overtime to lift Florida (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today)
to a 30-23 victory over Auburn.

The huge play salvaged the game after the Gators (5-3, 3-2
Southeastern Conference) had blown a 16-point lead in the fourth
quarter.

"I was on the ground waiting for the crowd to cheer,'' Grossman
said. "They cheered pretty loud.''

So loud, in fact, that it drowned out what might have been the
second-loudest noise of the night -- Ron Zook's huge sigh of relief.

"I'm feeling joy right now, because, I'll tell you something,
wins are hard to come by,'' Zook said.

Moments after the touchdown, Clint Mitchell stopped Auburn
quarterback Jason Campbell on fourth down to seal the win.
Suddenly, Florida's two-game losing streak was over, and its slim
hopes for the SEC title were still alive.

It was a victory that will go down as one of the most exciting
in Florida history, although the Gators could have made it a
snoozer.

They settled for three field goals on three trips inside
Auburn's 10, and instead of a blowout, they led just 23-7 heading
into the fourth quarter.

Campbell entered in the fourth and led the Tigers (4-3, 2-2) to
two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to erase the deficit.

After Florida missed on fourth-and-1 from its own 42 with 3:39
left -- "In hindsight, we might have been better off to punt it,''
Zook said -- Damon Duval had a chance to win it with a 23-yard field
goal with 30 seconds left.

But Bobby McCray leaped and blocked the kick to send the game
into overtime, and Florida had another chance.

"When my head was coming up, I heard the other thump, so I knew
something didn't go right,'' Duval said.

Florida's first two plays of overtime netted nothing, and things
looked bleak, but that's when Grossman stepped up.

The junior quarterback, his Heisman hopes all but gone, slipped
a tackle by Dexter Murphy, shuffled in the pocket and, with all his
weight on his hurting right knee, found Jacobs splitting the
coverage in the back of the end zone for the 30-23 lead.

"It was a Hail Mary,'' Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.
"The quarterback never saw it go off his hands because we hit him.
It was great execution. There's a reason he was second in the
Heisman last year.''

After Grossman's great throw, it came time to stop Campbell.

Mitchell did it on fourth-and-5, knocking the ball from the
backup quarterback as he wrapped him up. Ian Scott recovered, and
the Gators avoided a huge embarrassment heading into their bye
week.

"We need to take a break, take a week to heal and reflect,''
Grossman said.

The Tigers will take some time to worry. They lost the SEC's
leading rusher, Carnell Williams, to a broken left leg in the
second quarter. Tuberville said he's gone for the season and will
have surgery Monday.

His backup, Ronnie Brown, proved more than capable, running for
163 yards and scoring all three of Auburn's touchdowns. Brown's
54-yard catch and run, plus a 2-point play, tied the game with 5:05
remaining.

But Auburn couldn't close it out when handed the great
opportunity.

"We've got a bunch of guys in our locker room that are mentally
and physically worn out,'' Tuberville said. "I'm proud of them for
what they did. They came up with a play and we didn't.''

Grossman's winning throw to Jacobs was one of the few he tossed
deep all night. Grossman finished 27-for-35 for 242 yards, and he
didn't throw an interception after throwing eight in the last two
games.

Neither he nor the Gators were flawless, though. Florida
committed 13 penalties for 90 yards, including two for delay of
game and four for illegal formation.

It was an awful statistic, but not any worse than Auburn's 15
penalties for 82 yards.

Tuberville also is responsible for one of the oddest calls in
the program's long history -- a fake punt from his own 8-yard line
that failed, setting up one of Matt Leach's three field goals.

"We figured they would get the ball at the 35 anyway if he
punted,'' Tuberville said. "It didn't work, but they only got
three out of it anyway.''

ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Youth Florida Gators #1 Blue Football Game JerseyShop

NCAAF News