3:30 PM ET, November 11, 2006
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM, GAINESVILLE, FL
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Jarvis Moss jumped as high as he could, extending his arms toward the sky.
The Florida defensive end blocked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to give the sixth-ranked Gators a 17-16 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, keeping their national title hopes intact and sending Steve Spurrier home a loser in his return to the Swamp.
|Sept. 9||No. 12 Georgia||L, 18-0|
|Sept. 28||No. 2 Auburn||L, 24-17|
|Oct. 28||No. 8 Tennessee||L, 31-24|
|Nov. 4||No. 12 Arkansas||L, 26-20|
|Nov. 11||No. 6 Florida||L, 17-16|
Moss also blocked an extra point that was equally important.
"It felt good not to let the guys down," Moss said. "I think we've got something special going on."
The Gators (9-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) were fourth in the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings, right behind Louisville and just in front of Texas. But with the Cardinals losing at Rutgers on Thursday night and with No. 1 Ohio State playing No. 2 Michigan next Saturday, the Gators believe they have as good a chance as anybody of getting to the national championship game as a one-loss team.
Their former coach agreed.
"This could be the year of the Gators," Spurrier said.
Spurrier stood near the 31-yard line with his legs crossed as Ryan Succop lined up for the game-winner. Succop's kick cleared the line of scrimmage but didn't get over the outstretched arms of the 6-foot-6 Moss.
It was the third blocked kick of the game for Florida.
Moss batted down Succop's extra point attempt earlier in the fourth quarter, leaving the Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5) with a 16-10 advantage following Mike Davis' second touchdown run.
Defensive tackle Ray McDonald also blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt in the first half.
"You've got to find a way to win football games," Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "We found a way."
After Davis' score, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow teamed up to put the Gators ahead. Tebow picked up 6 yards on fourth-and-one in Florida territory, Leak ran for 17 a few plays later and then added an 8-yard scramble on third down.
Tebow scored on the next play from 12 yards out. Florida then made the extra point, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
"It came down to they can kick extra points and we didn't," Spurrier said.
Leak completed 19 of 27 passes for 254 yards, including a 21-touchdown pass to Dallas Baker. He also threw an interception and was sacked twice. Still, coach Urban Meyer called it his best game in two seasons.
The teams combined for 811 yards, 51 first downs and just one turnover.
Blake Mitchell, making his first start in two months, threw for 275 yards for South Carolina. Davis had 94 yards rushing, and Cory Boyd added 40 on the ground.
Mitchell drove the Gamecocks to the Florida 34 on the final drive, but a false start moved them back 5 yards. On third-and-17, he connected with Freddie Brown III for 8 yards to get them back into field goal territory.
Then Moss stepped up.
"He's a freak," Meyer said.
"That kid could block a kick on anyone," Spurrier said. "I don't like relying on field goals."
Spurrier coached 12 years in Gainesville and led Florida -- his alma mater -- to national prominence.
He went 68-5 at Florida Field, creating one of the best home-field advantages in college football, and even nicknamed the stadium the Swamp.
His 1966 Heisman Trophy is displayed outside the locker room. So are photos of his six Southeastern Conference championship teams and the 1996 national title trophy. His name and No. 11 jersey are painted inside the stadium. And he has one of four spots in the program's Ring of Honor, commemorated by a large placard featuring his name and number.
His lingering shadow was a big topic of conversation leading up to the game, and Meyer said beating the Florida legend was special.
"It means a lot, probably more than I'll ever give into," Meyer said.
Spurrier repeatedly downplayed his return, saying he would be too immersed in calling plays to get emotional.
"I was just trying to win a ball game," he said afterward. "I was just trying to get South Carolina its first win in the Swamp. We couldn't get it done today. I will not sit here and complain."
Spurrier was cheered by some, but booed by most as he entered the stadium along with his players.
But he quickly showed why so many fans wanted him to return to Florida after an unsuccessful stint in the NFL, calling plays that South Carolina used to drive down the field for a 7-0 lead.
The Gamecocks also went ahead 10-7 and 16-10, but the blocked extra point proved costly. So did the blocked field goals.
"It is frustrating," Succop said. "Special teams had a chance to help the team tonight, but we couldn't get it done. It's very disappointing."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Florida's Jarvis Moss blocked a 48-yard field goal as time expired in the game.
Gameball goes to... Moss. Not only did the six-foot-six defensive block the possible game-winning field goal, he also blocked an extra point.
Stat of the game... 78. Florida's first scoring drive of the game was 78 yards, its longest drive in over a month.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-12||7-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||2-2|
|TD||0:26||MIKE DAVIS 4 YD RUN (RYAN SUCCOP KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:25||DALLAS BAKER 21 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (CHRIS HETLAND KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 78 yards.
|FG||14:51||RYAN SUCCOP 47 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 51 yards.
|FG||10:49||CHRIS HETLAND 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||8:13||MIKE DAVIS 14 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||3:03||TIM TEBOW 12 YD RUN (CHRIS HETLAND KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yards.