On the eve before Halloween, EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, was filled with tricks and treats including a game-winning 37-yard field goal in overtime from senior punter Chas Henry to push the Florida Gators (5-3, 3-3 SEC) over the Georgia Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4 SEC) 34-31.
Tied at 31 in overtime, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was picked off by Florida junior safety Will Hill on third down after redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins tipped Murray’s pass. Hill nearly returned the ball for a touchdown to ice the game but stepped out at the four; the Gators got the ball back at the 25 for their attempt. Failing to gain a first down on their first three plays, Florida turned to Henry who made his second field goal of the night to help the Gators snap a three-game losing streak and win their 18th in the last 21 games against the Bulldogs.
With junior running back Jeff Demps and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey active for Florida, the Gators running game came alive. Demps rushed nine times for 38 yards, and Rainey carried 16 balls for 84 yards – both had a touchdown. Rainey also led UF with 241 all-purpose yards as he was the team’s primary kick returner. However, it was freshman QB Trey Burton who really helped move Florida’s offense, keeping 17 balls for 110 yards and two scores including a 51-yard touchdown run.
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who was 16-of-25 for 193 yards with an interception, spread the ball around evenly. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines caught four balls for a team-high 50 yards, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. hauled in three for 46 yards, Demps took two for 43 yards, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson caught two for 36 yards and Burton gained 35 yards on a team-high five receptions.
Georgia took it to Florida on the ground and through the air, rushing 34 times for 126 yards and a touchdown as a team and gaining 313 yards passing on Murray’s 18-of-37 performance with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins picked off Murray on the first play of the game, but the Gators offense stalled and failed to gain points after Henry missed a field goal. Hill intercepted Murray twice during the game and once more on a failed two-point conversion in the second half.
With the win, Florida moves into second place in the SEC East standings and within striking distance of earning a berth to the 2010 SEC Championship game should they defeat Vanderbilt (next Saturday at 12:21 p.m. on SEC Network) and South Carolina. Saturday’s game was the first time the Gators had gone to overtime in a contest since Nov. 5, 2005; Florida now holds a 3-2 record when playing in extra time.
Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press