Gators Bulls
Florida running back Trevor Etienne celebrates as he crosses the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gators Get By USF 31-28

The Florida Gator football team edged its way to victory over the South Florida Bulls Saturday night, 31-28. It was a seesaw battle between the two teams, each trading the lead with one another until the very end after the Bulls missed on a 49-yard field goal attempt.

First Half

The Bulls received the kickoff to start the game. However, South Florida didn’t have the ball for long. USF quarterback Gerry Bohanon completed a three yard pass to Xavier Weaver, but the wide receiver fumbled. Florida linebacker Shemar James recovered the ball, and the Gators began their first drive of the game. Quarterback Anthony Richardson got the Gators within field goal range, and kicker Adam Mihalek secured Florida’s spot on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal.

Even with the early lead, Florida’s defense struggled to contain the Bulls. Late in the first, USF running back Brian Battie scored on a 10-yard rushing touchdown, shifting the lead over to USF 7-3. By the end of the firs quarter, UF accumulated only 68 total yards while the Bulls nearly doubled that with 133 yards of offense.

The Gators wasted no time at the start of the second quarter. UF running back Montrell Johnson Jr. scored on a 62-yard touchdown run, edging Florida past USF 10-7.

The Gators’ defense continued to struggle, though. On fourth and one, Battie rushed 51 yards downfield to put the Bulls deep in Gator territory. While the Gators kept USF out of the end zone, the Bulls managed to  tie the game up at 10 with a 22-yard field goal.

Richardson and the Gators got into more of a groove later in the second. Running back Nay’Quan Wright ran in a seven yard touchdown to put Florida up 17-10. The quarter’s big play, though, came later by cornerback Jalen Kimber, who had a 39-yard pick six. Before the quarter ended, the Bulls were able to drive the ball into field goal range once again, this time making a 49-yard attempt. The first half ended with Florida leading 24-13.

https://twitter.com/GatorsFB/status/1571301447895252992?s=20&t=hirddfCtGI5zBMYPJ7Zjfw

Despite the Gators 11-point lead, USF dominated Florida in yardage during the first half. The Bulls recorded 272 total yards, 216 rushing, while the Gators produced only 204 total yards, 129 rushing.

Second Half

USF closed its scoring gap early in the third quarter. Bohanon scored on a six yard rush, and the Bulls made it a three-point game after a successful two-point conversion. The two teams traded possessions but the score remained 24-21 Gators. By the end of the third, both teams had recorded their lowest passing yards of the game: six for USF and seven for Florida in the quarter.

Even with such low passing yards, the Bulls were able to reclaim their lead over the Gators early in the fourth. Running back Michel Dukes took it to the end zone on a one yard run, pushing USF up 28-24.

It was a back-and-forth battle between both teams in the ending minutes of the game. The teams traded interceptions before Florida running back Trevor Etienne ran in a three yard rushing touchdown to make it 31-28 Gators.

With about five minutes left in the game, USF was able to drive the ball down to field goal range. Bulls kicker Spencer Shrader attempted a 49-yard field goal but missed, ending the game in the Gators favor, 31-28.

Stats and Looking Ahead

In total, Richardson had only 112 passing yards in the game, his lowest production so far this season.  In his previous two starts this year, the sophomore threw for 143 yards against Kentucky and 168 against Utah. Additionally, the quarterback threw two interceptions against USF just as he did last week against Kentucky.

Without linebacker Ventrell Miller who was injured, the Gators were repeatedly gashed on the ground by the Bulls, who ran for a whopping 286 yards on the ground.  And the Gators ran just 48 plays in the game, compared to 74 for the Bulls.  And in time of possession, USF had the ball for 36 minutes in the game, compared to just over 23 minutes for the Gators.

Florida head football coach Billy Napier said he tries to keep it technical with Richardson following an interception. Napier continued that Richardson “has a process that he understands what happened and why it happened.”

Richardson said despite the two interceptions, his confidence has increased, and he just has to keep growing as a player and a person.

Three running backs scored touchdowns against the Bulls in Saturday’s game. Napier said that he thought Florida rushed the ball well and there was good communication.

Next up, the Gators travel to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers in their second SEC match up of the season.

About Kaitlyn Wadulack

Kaitlyn Wadulack is a third-year journalism student specializing in sports and media at the University of Florida. You can reach Kaitlyn at k.wadulack@ufl.edu

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