South Carolina fight back in The Swamp, defeats Florida 23-20 in overtime

By Adam Silverstein
November 15, 2014

Two blocked kicks – first on a field goal, then on a punt – kept the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) alive, and a powerful running game allowed the visitors to pull out a 23-20 overtime victory over the Florida Gators (5-4, 4-4 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida spoke all week about its plans to “take back The Swamp,” and the Gators appeared to have the game well in hand until late, when after failing to gain a first down that would have run out the clock, UF had a punt blocked with 39 seconds remaining. USC rumbled into the end zone a couple plays later to force overtime and eventually outscored the home team 6-3 in the extra period to end the contest with a win.

The Gators dropped an overtime game for the first time in five tries and are now 4-3 all-time in such contests including 3-2 in The Swamp and 1-1 this season. UF is also now 22-7 against unranked opponentsa nd 13-5 against unranked Southeastern Conference teams under head coach Will Muschamp.

Muschamp falls to 1-3 against South Carolina and head coach Steve Spurrier, and his ability to keep his job is in serious question after another late meltdown cost UF another win at home.


South Carolina drove right down the field on its opening possession with quarterback Dylan Thompson completing passes of 30 and 20 yards to get the Gamecocks into the red zone. Once there, running back Brandon Wilds took off for 20 yards on 3rd and 2, scrambling into the end zone untouched to spot USC an early 7-0 lead.

A Florida three-and-out put South Carolina right back on the field, and it took advantage of the opportunity with a 15-play, 66-yard scoring drive. The Gators actually stopped the Gamecocks on 4th and 1 on USC’s own 41-yard line, but a facemask penalty on the tackler, UF junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., continued the possession. South Carolina was eventually held up inside the red zone and forced to convert a 32-yard field goal.

Another untimely penalty, a false start by junior left tackle D.J. Humphries, stalled Florida’s first significant offensive drive of the afternoon, but the Gators nevertheless cut their deficit to 10-3 as redshirt senior kicker Frankie Velez converted a 35-yard field goal with 6:37 left until halftime.

Following a huge defensive stop inside the Gamecocks’ 10-yard line, Florida took over at midfield with 1:25 remaining until the break. Freshman QB Treon Harris completed his second pass of the day on the possession, ending a 5-play, 50-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown throw to sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson on a slant.

Responding to USC’s 10 first-quarter points, UF posted 10 of its own in the second to tie things up as the teams entered the locker rooms.

Fowler came through after the break with a huge third-down pressure to force South Carolina into a 47-yard field goal attempt, which it missed. Florida took advantage of the field position, gaining 32 yards on 3rd and 12 as Harris found junior WR Latroy Pittman open down the middle. Harris then moved the Gators inside the Gamecocks’ 1-yard line with a 22-yard keeper on 3rd and 8. Two plays later, junior RB Matt Jones snuck the ball over the line to push UF ahead 17-10.

South Carolina and Florida traded fumbles on each team’s next possession, with Gators senior safety Jabari Gorman forcing and recovering one near midfield to earn UF the ball back. Harris coughed it up three plays later, however, as the ball was knocked out on his way to converting another third down.

The Gamecocks once again struggled to move the ball, finding themselves in a 3rd and 22 following a bad snap and sack courtesy of Fowler. However, South Carolina gained 15 yards on a screen pass and moved up to the 50-yard line after a Florida sideline infraction penalty. Spurrier decided to go for it on 4th and 2, but UF sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III blew up an option to force the turnover on downs with 11:29 to play.

Unable to take advantage of the field position and an opportunity to add to its lead, Gators senior punter Kyle Christy pinned the Gamecocks inside their 2-yard line with a 45-yard punt. Florida forced a punt on the ensuing possession but nearly coughed the ball back up as the punt hit freshman RB Brandon Powell and rolled on the ground until junior walk-on WR Roger Dixon fell on it.

A 15-yard personal foul penalty on South Carolina CB Chris Lammons pushed UF into the red zone, but the Gators were unable to come away with points as Velez had his 32-yard field goal attempt blocked. The Gamecocks then moved into the host’s territory on a questionable 15-yard pass interference called on UF junior DB Marcus Maye.

Maye got a measure of revenge by deflecting a well-thrown ball by Thompson on 3rd and 10, and Florida’s defense forced another turnover on downs after a bad snap led to an off-balance throw on fourth down. Unfortunately for the Gators, a blocked punt gave the Gamecocks the ball back on the UF 34 with 39 seconds remaining. A 27-yard catch by RB Mike Davis got USC down to the 7-yard line; a couple plays later, he dropped an option pitch but fell on it in the end zone to tie the game 17-17.

Unable to move the ball after losing the toss and starting on offense in the overtime period, Florida took a 20-17 lead as redshirt sophomore K Austin Hardin converted a 35-yard field goal. South Carolina ran the ball six times after gaining possession, earning two first downs and finishing with a touchdown when Thompson took a keeper into the end zone.

Bowl eligibility will be on the line for the Gators next week when they host Eastern Kentucky on Senior Day at Florida Field.

29 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    Way to “take back the Swamp” guys. While it is true there is not 1 call or 1 play that decides a game, I can think of at least 10 different plays that the game could have been put away that USC was allowed to stay in it.

  2. Matt Burris says:

    Poor Spurrier, he got confused and tried to take back The Swamp that he built.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    Here we go again. Who would have thought that Eastern Kentucky would ever be a “must win” game for a University of Florida football team?

  4. SJ210 says:

    You called it on twitter Adam – this is what happens when you don’t trust your offense to make first downs/score TDs to win the game. Once again Chump coached not to lose and it bit us in the rear. Hard to believe the new lows we continue to reach under him. On the bright side, this has to be the final nail in his coffin.

    • Michael Jones says:

      He’s been coaching scared like that since the day he got here. Even in our 11-2 season, we would have probably beaten UGA but he controlled the “play not to lose” offensive philosophy that eventually bit us on the butt just like it did today.

  5. BillyBob says:

    Muschamp should be fired. This loss falls completely on his shoulders! Two crucial special teams miscues and then terrible philoshpy. His defensive philosphy of running the ball and controlling the clock is a risky philosophy when playing a high powered offensive team. And is definitely not the right philosphy to win consistently long-term. I feel bad for our kids. I really do.Tough loss!

  6. Aligator says:

    Unbelievable!

  7. nygator says:

    So many good things to applaud, but the special teams failures are inexcusable. Once again, the ability to lead in all faucets are where WM falls short. Heartbreaking for fans and players to lose like this.

  8. Gatorgrad05 says:

    I quit.

  9. Michael Jones says:

    I know, Champ supporters, I know. Look at how far we’ve come, right? We’ve gone from getting blown out at home 42-13 by a 7-2 team to only losing by 3 in overtime to a 4-5 team. It’s all in how you look at it, right? Turn that frown upside down! We’ve worked our way all the back up to mediocre!

    I refuse to believe that Muschamp isn’t involved in the offensive play calling. Otherwise, if the best Roper can do with all of that top ten recruiting talent (before our recruiting got to where it is today) is Treon left, Treon right, and Treon up the middle, then let’s send him back to Duke. Predictable BS offensive playcalling might’ve worked one day against UGA and probably most days against Vandy BUT IT IS NOT SUSTAINABLE IN THE S.E.C.

    Maybe Eastern Kentucky will let us take back The Swamp. Today it belongs to the man who named it.

    • Frank says:

      Michael- Your sarcasm is only exceeded by the heartache every true Gator feels right now. Three key plays lost this one for us today: Robinson’s hold on Harris’ late TD run, blocked FG and blocked punt. But Coach’s refusal to open it up was huge. I still think it will be very damaging to fire Coach and start over. This is a very good staff. But he may have finally sealed it today…Absolutely hate the way things turned out. Defines disappointment.

      • Michael Jones says:

        I take no joy in any of this, Frank. We’re all sad. I have nothing personal against Muschamp. But it’s disingenuous to act like today he acted any differently than he’s acted since the day he got here. In the big picture, the worst thing that could have happened is what happened against UGA–running it 60 times and passing it 6 and winning that way, because that reinforced in his stubborn brain the notion that philosophy could ever work in the SEC.

        And of course the Champ supports were all over that, like somehow that vindicated Champ. It was an anomaly that could never be sustainable in the SEC or make up for 4 years of mediocrity.

        • Frank says:

          Funny, I was just telling my son-in-law that exact same thought (uga outcome). It perpetuated a flawed belief in his conservative philosophy. My question for you Michael is this: What’s the best possible scenario with his removal to avoid too much collateral damage for the program (recruiting, etc)???

          • Michael Jones says:

            I agree with Adam’s suggestion that the best course would be for Foley to announce his firing immediately but let him coach out the remainder of the season. Take the pressure off and let him and the kids enjoy the remainder of the season. I also agree that’s our best chance of pulling off an upset of FSU.

            Also gives Foley some time to maybe conduct a more reasoned, measured, thoughtful and comprehensive coaching search than he has in the past. Gives the would-be candidates time to put us on their radar screen and vice versa.

            As for recruiting, we’ll take a hit regardless, but hopefully we’ll make a big splash with our next hire and he’ll have time to put a staff together and maybe salvage a decent recruiting class by NSD. But just like all the coaches that came before him, our next coach won’t be inheriting a bare cupboard either.

            • Frank says:

              On the recruiting scenario, I think we’ll basically skip a class, accept for the few REALLY committed to the Gators. Fortunately we return an almost intact defense and much of the offense, so as to win next year and turn around the negative recruiting by fsu and others.

            • Frank says:

              You called it , my friend.

  10. Ed says:

    When you coach not to lose…

  11. ga8or22 says:

    The may have sealed the end Muschamps’ stay at Florida. He was out coached in the game and in overtime. We gave the game away and the playing in the 4th quarter was awful.

  12. SW Fl Joe says:

    The only question left to be answered for the Muschamp era is when does Foley pull the plug.

  13. G2 says:

    Now its over, right? Please!
    Pitiful, icing a game and end up losing.

  14. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    all the goodwill Mischamp had built up for Gator Nation was destroyed today. The game was slipped out of our hands due to conservative play calling in 4th quarter. We should have put our foot in her throat and won the game by 14 points minimum.

    PS inexcusable to lose that game inexcusable to lose three games at the swamp after all the talk about taking back the swamp…. Ridiculous we need to beat Eastern Kentucky to be bowl eligible. A six and five seasons does not save his job Muschamp FIRED!!!

    PS we managed to Grab Defeat out of the jaws of victory…. pathetic to lose 3 games in a row at the swamp

  15. mike says:

    This is a hard pill to swallow. When you have hope then to realize it was false. When you think progress is actually being made and it is not. The players play their hearts out, but can only run the plays that are called for them. I feel bad for the players. Inexcusable play calling and I really don’t believe it is Roper. This type of play calling is synonymous with Muschamp in charge, no matter the OC. These are just my mixed thoughts. GO GATORS!!!

  16. Gatoralum88 says:

    Whatever leeway beating Georgia gave him he lost with that sorry ending which was typical Muschamp…get a slight lead then go ultra conservative & play the clock…a recipe for “finding a way to lose”. Besides, does he want Harris to get hurt? It’s not like he’s built like Tebow or Driskel. Heck, with that kind of game plan he’d probably have been better off using Driskel. Hello!…it’s not 1960. Mix in more passes!…please! Out of 14 offensive plays in the 4th quarter 13 were runs with 1 incomplete pass. Unbelievable!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Muschamp will ever change & adapt his thinking. He obviously thought “if it can beat Georgia it should beat the SEC’s worst run defense” but it didn’t. It’s clearly unsustainable. I think it’s finally time for Foley to man up & stand by his “if it’s inevitable, it must be immediate” credo & pull the trigger & (like Zook) allow him to finish out this season while knowing his days as HC are numbered. Why wait until 12/1? Let’s hope Foley finally realizes it.

  17. Tony22 says:

    Does anyone remember the last time Florida blocked a kick?

    Louisiana Lafeyette?

  18. I’ve been calling for Muschamp’s head for three years. He should never have been hired. Worse than Zook. Foley should go too. The coaching talent that we’ve had and let get away is sad. We’re screwed for several more years as well.

  19. Go Gators…Billy Ball.

  20. gator says:

    Hey Muschamp, the CLOCK HAS RUN OUT!

  21. Bill says:

    I know we are all frustrated, but we will look back at this day a few years from now and be so glad we lost it and moved on from the chump

  22. apm says:

    I am confused….I thought Driske was the problem? Maybe it’s the undisciplined defense that keeps other teams drives alive with penalties (thats on you def Coord).
    You wanted a high school qb, you got a high school offense.
    And playmaker Robinson, the first down is where the yardage marker is…Nice clutch play.

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