The Florida Gators were up on their rival Florida State Seminoles by 13 heading into the final 15 minutes in Doak Campbell on Saturday. That was until Van Jefferson put the nail in the coffin with a 38-yard touchdown catch to open the fourth quarter.
Jefferson ran about 15 yards down the field before making a move over the top that sent the safety plummeting to his face, leaving him wide open for Feleipe Franks to hit him and march right into the end zone.
While he and his teammates celebrated, he actually dreaded facing wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales once he got back to the sideline. It turns out he was supposed to cross inside on the route that was called, but with the defensive back so far inside already, he made the split-second decision to take the play the other way.
And it was the right one. Gonzales agreed.
“When I saw that he came inside and I just gave him a one, two and went over top,” Jefferson said. “When I came back to the sideline I thought I was going to get in trouble with coach but coach was happy. He said good job taking it over the top.”
That play was the cherry on top of a nice game by Florida’s leading receiver. He had four catches for 92 yards for an average of 23.6 yards per reception.
Jefferson was not the only one of Florida’s receivers to put up big numbers against the Seminoles.
Trevon Grimes led the Gators on his way to a career game as he caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
He was a part of a big turning point in the game after the defense forced a fumble with a 20-7 lead in the third quarter and Grimes caught a sideline pass for a 22-yard touchdown on the very first play of the following possession.
That let out all the wind that was left in FSU’s sails.
“I think when Tre caught that touchdown, I think it was over with then,” Jefferson said. “After that I knew we had them. They were over there panicking and they weren’t hype no more on the sideline. They weren’t waving the towels. I knew they were already down and we had them then.”
Along with that, Grimes made a big play for a 54-yard reception in the second quarter and had just one catch go for fewer than 16 yards.
His big game may not have even been possible without an early injury. He has played behind Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland all year, but when Cleveland broke his collar bone on a play in the first quarter, Grimes had to come in for a majority of the snaps.
It is unfortunate that it had to happen that way, but his greater presence in the offense was felt immediately and he made the most of his opportunity.
“He’s done a great job of being patient and just waiting his turn,” Franks said. “I told him when you get your opportunity, just take advantage of it no matter when it is. Last game of the season, first game of the season, it doesn’t matter. You have to always be ready for your opportunity and take advantage of it. That’s what he did today.”
It may have taken some time to settle into the offense, but Florida is seeing the payoff from bringing in both of the transfer receivers.