Dre Massey

Associated Press

Texas A&M boots its way past Florida in battle for second-tier SEC supremacy

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Texas A&M’s offense struggled for much of the night, but the Aggies’ defense and special teams were enough to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to win yet another to-the-wire game, besting Florida 19-17 in Gainesville.

Florida led 10-3 after a largely uneventful first half, and the Aggies pulled even after Kellen Mond accounted for 60 yards of on a 6-play, 55-yard drive (not a misprint), culminating the march in a 9-yard run at the 11:12 mark of the second quarter.

The score remained deadlocked at 10-10 through the end of the third quarter, until Feleipe Franks twisted and turned his way to a career-long 79-yard run, setting up a 6-yard Dre Massey rush on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M moved the ball inside the Florida red zone on each of its next two drives but could not convert on either trip, forcing the second and third Daniel LaCamera field goals. The Aggies forced a Florida punt trailing 17-16 with 6:35 to go and took over at the Gators’ 24-yard line thanks to a 43-yard Christian Kirk punt return and a 15-yard personal foul flag.

However, a third consecutive drive ended short of the end zone, forcing a 32-yard LaCamera field goal to put the Aggies in front, 19-17.

Florida took over at its own 25 with 58 seconds left needing only a field goal to win the game. They wouldn’t get the chance, though, because Franks was intercepted by Tyrel Dodson on the first play of the drive to seal the win for the Aggies. Texas A&M won despite Mond completing 8-of-24 passes (for 180 yards with an interception) and the ground game accounting for just 83 yards on 38 carries.

Florida has to swallow a loss in which it ran 42 times for 242 yards and Franks completed 17-of-26 passes, but for only 129 yards with two costly interceptions.

The win pushes the Aggies to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC with a real opportunity to make a second-half run and save Kevin Sumlin‘s job. Texas A&M is off next week and closes with five straight winnable games: consecutive home games against Mississippi State, Auburn and New Mexico, and road trips to Ole Miss and LSU.

Florida, meanwhile, dropped to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in SEC play. The Gators will also take next week off, but no layups await them on the other side of the bye. Florida will play next in Jacksonville against No. 4 Georgia.