GAINESVILLE, Fla.– Not even new uniforms could prevent the Florida Gator football team from falling for the second straight week at home.
Texas A&M (5-2, 3-1 SEC) came into the Swamp and pulled out a 19-17 win after kicker Daniel LaCamera hit a game winning 32-yard field goal with 58 seconds to go in the game. Florida (3-3, 2-2 SEC) had a chance to win the game on their final possession, but quarterback Feleipe Franks threw a pick (his second of the night) to linebacker Tyrel Dodson on the drive’s first play to seal the win for the Aggies.
LaCamera’s kick was part of an Aggie comeback in which they scored the final nine points of the game, all on his field goals.
— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) October 15, 2017
Florida seemed poised to turn momentum into a victory when they scored on the first play of the fourth quarter. A 79-yard scramble from Feleipe Franks on third and 12 from his own eight-yard line set the team up in the red zone to start the final period.
Dre Massey finished the drive off with a six-yard touchdown run on a fly sweep to give Florida the 17-10 lead. At the time, it appeared like the Franks run would end up being the key play in the game.
Feleipe Franks just went 79 yards in 20 seconds.
Is that good? pic.twitter.com/C11n17U12A
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 15, 2017
That would be the only positive of the quarter for Florida though. They would run only nine plays the rest of the quarter for a total of 21 yards.
That was emblematic of an offense that had its moments, but was anemic for large chunks of the game. Franks threw for only 129 yards and two picks. The run game did work for most of the game, with the Gators racking up 242 yards on 42 carries. Malik Davis had another good game (18 carries, 97 yards), while Lamical Perine scored the first touchdown in the game on a five-yard scamper in the second quarter (13 carries, 54 yards, TD).
However, Florida seemed to go away from the run game at times, putting the team in long distance-to-go situations, which ended up hurting the team. That was especially the case on third downs, as Florida was an underwhelming 4-for-15.
“Offensively, the third downs in the second half, we gotta stay on the field and give ourselves an opportunity to be successful,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said.
Franks echoed the sentiment.
“Covert on third downs, obviously, we want the percentage a little bit higher than it was tonight,” Franks said.
And for the second straight week, special teams miscues hurt Florida. A kickoff out of bounds from Eddy Piniero and a poor decision to run out a kickoff from Adarius Lemons were among decisions that either cost Florida points or flipped field position against them.
The costliest one though may have been the decision to punt to Christian Kirk late in the fourth quarter. Florida was nursing a 17-16 lead with just under five minutes left. Johnny Townsend punted the ball directly to the All-American returner, who took it back 43 yards to the Florida 39. The play set the Aggies up with good field position to try to win the game.
"That's what supposed to happen, but it didn't, and it came back and bit us."– Mac on punting away from Christian Kirk
— Jonathan Acosta (@jonacosta_10) October 15, 2017
Florida could have gotten the ball back with more time, but freshman Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond converted a key third and four with a six-yard run to take more time off the clock. Mond did most of his damage on the ground as he was only 8 of 24 passing for 180 yards and an interception to safety Jeawon Taylor, who was starting in place of the injured Nick Washington. However, Mond carried 15 times for 52 yards, including a nine-yard scoring run to tie the game at 10-10 on A&M’s first drive of the second half.
The loss now drops Florida to 3-3, their worst start to a season since 2003. They now go into a bye week before playing in the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville in two weeks.
“There is nobody fighting and bickering,” Florida defensive lineman Cece Jefferson said. “There is a lot of coming together and leaders stepping up, which is exactly what we need at times like this.”