JACKSONVILLE — After years of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, the No. 12 Florida Gators (7-1, 5-1 SEC) have found ways to win games this season.
This certainly isn’t what Jim McElwain drew up in his mind when he game planned for Georgia, but the sum of the parts equaled his first win over the Georgia Bulldogs and could send Florida to their first SEC Championship since 2009.
The No. 12 Gators (7-1, 5-1 SEC) defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 27-3 in an offensively challenged contest.
“Guys, that was painful to say the least and I apologize for that,” McElwain said opening up his press conference,” “But the end result was awesome. Our guys figured out a way to win.”
The Gators have won in comeback fashion, in routes, in close games and now ugly. It doesn’t matter how you get there, the result is the only stat that matters at the end of the day. It’s gratifying to the coaching staff and the fans, but more importantly it’s gratifying to the players who endured one of the worst seasons in Florida football history.
“You appreciate it a lot. 4-8 seasons are nothing you could ever think of happening at Florida but it did happen,” redshirt senior Trip Thurman said. “Now with Coach Mac here it’s a new era and we have Florida back on top.”
The game started exactly how McElwain drew it up. Florida methodically moved down the field covering 61 yards in 10 plays before Austin Hardin missed a 45-yard field goal. The next three offensive drives all ended on the right foot of Johnny Townsend.
“Give their defense and Jeremy (Pruitt) a lot of credit,” McElwain said of his friend and Georgia defensive coordinator. “At times it looked like they were right in the middle of our playbook. They did a heck of a job and they do a heck of a job there.”
What the Gators did do on Saturday night was make big plays; momentum swinging plays that left the Bulldogs deflated and helpless.
It started with a special teams’ touchdown. Georgia punt returner Reggie Davis muffed a great punt from Townsend and was immediately swarmed by three Gators. When the smoke cleared and everything settled down it was Jacksonville native Nick Washington that came up with the football.
The Gators offense stalled before another huge play changed the tide again. Treon Harris found fellow Booker T Washington alum Antonio Callaway streaking down the Georgia sideline. The two connected for a 66-yard Tornado touchdown that gave Florida a 13-0 lead.
“Gosh man, that kid Callaway man, every week he seems to be getting better and better,” Kelvin Taylor said of Callaway. “He just got us to step on these guys man and just keep it rolling, man, and the team bought into it and we just kept it rolling from there.”
The rest of the game was the Kelvin Taylor show. The junior running back carried the ball 25 times for 121 yards and two scores. He’s played his best football against Georgia and his running ability allowed the Florida offense to move, despite a struggling Treon Harris.
Harris completed just 8-of-19 pass attempts for 155 yards and had a turnover via fumble. Far from his best game but there is only one stat that matters.
“At the end of the day, the guy is 2-0 in this ball game as a starter, 2-0,” McElwain said of Harris. “That means something. I’m proud of him.”