Sometimes it comes down to “Want To.”
On the Gators one yard line, with the under :20 remaining and the SEC East Championship hanging in the balance, LSU tested Florida’s not once, but twice. And the Gators defense, rose to the challenge stopping the Tigers on third and fourth and goal to preserve their 16-10 win in Baton Rouge and punch their ticket to Atlanta.
Needing a TD down 16-10, LSU tried the man on man power run off left guard on third and goal with fullback J.D. Moore who was stuffed for no gain. Then, after a timeout, LSU on the final play of the game went with running back Darius Guice going up and over and he never got close. Guice actually fumbled beside himself to a fellow Tiger on the ground at the one.
It’s a goal line stand that they will talk about in Gainesville and SEC “lore” for many years to come.
The Gators defense heroics had been bolstered earlier in the 4th quarter with two field goals by Eddy Piniero. One came after the Gators fumbled in a key situation themselves, at the LSU one trying a QB Austin Appleby pitch out. They had to settle for three points and did not go up by more than seven setting into motion the drama.
For his part Appleby, the backup to Luke Del Rio, had hit freshman Tyrie Cleveland with a 98 yard bomb TD out of Florida’s own endzone for Florida’s only TD of the day to give the Gators a 10-7 lead.
LSU star RB Leonard Fournette was limited due to a nagging ankle injury and finished with only 40 yards on 12 carries. He was not in on the final frantic drive.
With the heroics on the goal line saving the day, Florida will now advance to Atlanta in two weeks as the East division outright champs and face Alabama for the second year in a row and record ninth time overall in the SEC Championship Game.