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Florida running back Montrell Johnson Jr., left, gets past Missouri defensive back Joseph Charleston for a touchdown on a 3-yard run during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gator Football Gets First SEC Win Against Missouri

The Florida Gators football team (4-2, 1-2 SEC) defeated the Missouri Tigers (2-4, 0-3 SEC) Saturday, 24-17. This is Florida’s first SEC win since Florida dominated Vanderbilt 42-0 on October 9, 2021. Cornerback Jaydon Hill kept Missouri at bay with two interceptions, one resulting in a pick six.

Gators First Half Look: Defense and Special Teams

Florida’s defense and special teams took control of the game early on. After a Missouri punt late in the first, wide receiver Xzavier Henderson had a 48-yard return to set Florida up deep in Missouri territory. Despite the Tiger defense keeping Florida out of the end zone, Gator kicker Adam Mihalek made a 37-yard field goal to give Florida an early 3-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Hill intercepted Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook’s pass for a 49-yard pick six, his first collegiate career interception. By the end of the first, Florida was up 10-0.

https://twitter.com/SEC/status/1578790274360381440?s=20&t=i68gxFyQtavj4rPLSm1T1Q

This would be the first of two interceptions Hill would have in the game. The redshirt sophomore missed last season due to a knee injury and suffered another knee injury in the offseason. After his many roads to recovery, Hill has had two great games since his Florida debut against Eastern Washington. Hill recorded four tackles over the Eagles and three against the Tigers along with his two interceptions.

Hill said the last time he had a pick six was back in his junior year of high school. He added that he’s grateful to be where he is now.

By the second quarter, Florida’s offense still hadn’t found its rhythm. Mihalek missed a 50-yard field goal attempt, and a five yard Mizzou touchdown by Cody Schrader cut into the Gator lead, 10-7. What stunted Florida’s offensive stride, though, was a fumble by quarterback Anthony Richardson, which set Missouri up at Florida’s 32-yard line. The Gator defense kept the Tigers out of the end zone, but Missouri was able to tie the game up at 10 with a 28-yard field goal at halftime.

Second Half: Richardson and Offense Pick Up

It was a slow offensive start for the Gators in the first half, posting only 65 total yards while the Tigers had 196. Momentum picked up after halftime with Florida boasting 232 yards and Mizzou 174.

The Gator rushing game crushed the Tigers in the second half. Florida had 212 rushing yards compared to Mizzou’s 51. Passing wise, the Tigers surpassed the Gators with 123 passing yards while Florida only had 20.

Here’s what head coach Billy Napier said about Florida’s shift at halftime.

Montrell Johnson Jr. led Florida’s rushing game with 86 net yards. The running back also had a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to boost Florida’s lead, 17-10.

Hill once again intercepted Cook’s pass toward the end of third quarter on third and 6 at the Gator 16-yard line. By the start of the fourth, Florida was on their own 23-yard line.

On first and 10 at Florida’s own 48-yard line, Montrell Johnson Jr. rushed for 36 yards to get Florida deep in Mizzou territory. A few plays later, Richardson’s pass to wide receiver Ricky Pearsall resulted in a nine yard touchdown as Florida led 24-10.

Richardson said the running game really helped Florida out against Missouri.

The Tigers put up a fight in the final quarter. Mizzou was able to get on the scoreboard one more time with an 18-yard touchdown run by running back Nathaniel Peat to make it 24-17 Florida. Soon after, the Tigers intercepted the ball to make it first and 10 at Mizzou’s 32-yard line.

The Gators defense was able to keep Missouri from any further scoring efforts. With a final score of 24-17 Florida, the Gators had secured their first SEC win of the season.

Post Game Notables

Richardson passed for only 66 yards in Saturday’s game. The quarterback threw for one touchdown, had one interception and was sacked once.

Napier said Richardson did enough to win.

Linebacker Ventrell Miller had quite the game with 11 tackles, 10 of which were solo. Napier said Miller is inspirational and makes other people around him better.

Hill was another player who made massive plays against Missouri. Napier talked about Hill’s journey and said he was a difference maker in the game.

Napier said defensively, the only area of frustration were the third and longs Florida gave up in the game.

The Gators will next play LSU in the Swamp on October 15 at 7 p.m.

About Kaitlyn Wadulack

Kaitlyn Wadulack is a fourth-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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