Video recap provided by Ashlyn Sullivan, WUFT Sports
The eighth ranked Florida Gator football team (10-1, 9-1 SEC) had the opportunity to give its coach, Jim McElwain, the most wins by a first year coach in Florida program history. The only obstacle was a Florida Atlantic Owls team out of Conference USA who had struggled to a 2-8 overall record. To make matters worse for FAU, Florida came in to the game undefeated, 15-0, versus Conference USA opponents including two wins over the Owls by a combined score of 100 to 23.
The Gators improved their record to 3-0 over Florida Atlantic with the 20-14 victory today, but it wasn’t without a major fight that couldn’t be decided in the allotted 60 minutes of game time. At the end of regulation the score was tied at 14 and the Owls had out-gained the Gators in yards, 286 to 227. Despite the Gator offensive struggles throughout the game, they were able to put a touchdown on the board in the first overtime. Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris threw all the way across the field to tight end Jake McGee who put on his dancing shoes, faked out two defenders, and waltzed in to the end zone. McGee said the play was one that the offense worked hard on this week.
— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) November 21, 2015
But, the PAT by Austin Hardin was blocked, the third time that has happened this season. All Florida Atlantic had to do was score and kick an extra point to pull the major upset in the Swamp. The Florida defense, which had been called on many times already in the game to make a big stop, was asked to take care of business one more time.
The Owls picked up a first down and had first and goal from the 10 yard line. First play, CeCe Jefferson and Bryan Cox, Jr. sniff out a read option play, loss of two. Second play, receiver Jenson Stoshak slips in the end zone, pass is incomplete. Third play, Brian Poole breaks up a pass in the end zone. On fourth and goal from the 12-yard line, Poole once again breaks up a pass in the end zone and the Gators escape with the win.
After the game, McElwain was quick to credit Florida Atlantic’s performance.
Treon Harris finished the game 8-for-17, with 122 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception while leading the Gators offense to just 252 total yards against an Owls unit that came in to the game allowing close to 430 yards per game. Despite the poor play from his quarterback, McElwain doesn’t put all of the blame on him.
Defensively, the Gators gave up close to 300 yards, but they forced three turnovers and sacked the quarterback five times. They were charged with keeping the Gators in the game while the offense tried to work out the kinks. Defensive back Jalen Tabor says they embrace that mind set of picking up the offense.
Florida now shifts its focus to in-state rival Florida State (9-2, 6-2 ACC). The 14th-ranked Seminoles are coming off a 52-13 blowout win over Chattanooga and McElwain knows the Gators will have to play much better to get a win.