Jeff Driskel was perfect in the fourth quarter – until he wasn’t. And his one moment of imperfection cost Florida as the Gators blew a late 24-20 lead to fall to LSU 30-27 at the Swamp on Saturday night.
Trailing 20-17 entering the final frame after Leonard Fournette‘s second rushing touchdown of the game at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter, Driskel hit five of his first six passes of the fourth quarter for 118 yards, including an 11-yarder to Demarcus Robinson to put the Gators up 24-20 with 6:10 to play, and a 73-yarder, again to Robinson, to move the ball to the LSU two after the Bayou Bengals had reclaimed the lead at 27-24 on an Anthony Jennings scoring strike to Travin Dural (which he happened to catch while battling pass interference).
With the clock nearing the tw0-minute mark, Brandon Powell rushed for one yard on first-and-goal, and Driskel carried for no gain on second-and-goal. With the ball on the one-yard line, Driskel found an open Tevin Westbrook in the end zone, but the pass clanged off his hands and fell incomplete. The Gators settled for a Francisco Velez field goal to tie the game at 27-27 with 1:49 to play.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Gators reclaimed the ball at their own 42 with 54 seconds to play. Driskel hit Brandon Powell out of the backfield on consecutive plays for 13 yards (making him 7-of-9 for 131 yards with a touchdown and a drop in the quarter….good, right?), Driskel forced a ball into coverage, and Rickey Jefferson snagged it for LSU and returned the ball 23 yards to the Florida 36.
Because of the Westbrook drop, a tie game meant LSU could play conservative knowing worst-case scenario meant overtime – instead of a touchdown do-or-die situation – and that they did. One Terrance Magee run and an incomplete pass set Colby Delahoussaye up for the 50-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds to play.
The win dropped Florida to a painful 3-2 on the season and 2-2 in SEC play, while LSU improves to 5-2 and avoids its first 0-3 SEC start since 1999.
Driskel completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while carrying the Gators’ ground attack with 21 rushes for 71 yards. While Driskel dominated the stat sheet, Andre Debose was Florida’s best offensive player with two punt returns that totaled 115 yards, one for 62-yard touchdown that opened the scoring and a 53-yarder that set up Driskel’s touchdown pass.
Florida played most of the games without star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, and lost wide receiver Latroy Pittman to a scary hit that saw him carted off the field.
Jennings played the whole way at quarterback for LSU, hitting on 10-of-21 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Fournette posted his best game as a collegian with 27 rushes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Florida will host Missouri next week, while LSU returns home to face Kentucky.