Game Changers: South Carolina

On a day where Florida’s offense did not get into a rhythm early, the Gators still found ways to dismantle the South Carolina Gamecocks, 44-11.

It wasn’t the smoothest game for Florida all-around, but it took advantage of five game-changing plays that swung the momentum greatly in the Gators’ favor and allowed them to take charge of their own destiny in the SEC Eastern Division.

1) Loucheiz Purifoy’s blitz on first play of game

It was a gutsy call to start the game on, but the corner blitz by Loucheiz Purifoy could arguably be the biggest play of the day. The blitz seemingly caught Connor Shaw by surprise and Purifoy was able to knock the ball loose.

The fumble put the Gators in prime position to punch it in for a quick touchdown just 15 seconds into the game. This quick turnover by the Gamecocks set the tone for rest of the day and pumped even more energy into an already raucous crowd.

2) Blocked field goal by Sharrif Floyd

One aspect of the Gators’ special teams that has shined this season is the defensive field goal unit. After blocking a field goal last week, the defense struck again.

This time junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd stepped up by breaking through the line of scrimmage and blocking South Carolina’s 45-yard field goal.

Although nothing came of the next possession for the Florida offense, Floyd’s block prevented the Gamecocks from cutting the UF lead to one point, which allowed a little more breathing room for Jeff Driskel and the offense.

3) Ace Sanders’ fumble on punt return

The Gators were forced to punt after another three-and-out from near their own end zone. It looked like it would be a long day for the offense, but it was given a huge lift when the Gamecocks’ Ace Sanders fumbled on the ensuing punt return, giving Florida the ball back in South Carolina territory.

Trey Burton had the awareness to find the football after knocking it loose from Sanders. The Gators got the ball at the USC 29-yard line, and the short field proved to be significant for Florida’s offense.

4) Jeff Driskel to Quinton Dunbar to pull ahead 14-3

After catching a break on the fumble by Sanders, the Gators developed a rhythm on offense through Burton and the wildcat formation.

However, it was Driskel’s 13-yard pass to Quinton Dunbar that put the Gators up 14-3 midway through the second quarter. Dunbar escaped from a few South Carolina defenders and found his way into the end zone for a big momentum shift in the game.

5) USC fumble on kickoff; recovery by Chris Johnson

If you thought things couldn’t worse for the Gamecocks on special teams … well they did.

On the very next possession, South Carolina fumble the ball on the kickoff and backup running back Chris Johnson quickly picked up the football and returned it to the South Carolina 1-yard line.

Shortly after, the Gators threw a play action pass to Jordan Reed in the back of the end zone to extend their lead to 21-3.  This sequence of events seemingly deflated the Gamecocks for the rest of the game as the Gators went on to score 23 more points.

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Drew is a senior at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. When not at school, Drew resides in Lakeland, Fla. Ever since working on his high school yearbook, Drew has had an interest in pursuing a journalism career after college. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper, The Samford Crimson, Drew has also been with Gator Country as an intern for one year. He enjoys the finer things in life like Tampa Bay Rays baseball and always making sure to make fun of the Atlanta Braves to Andrew Spivey’s face.