Gators outmuscle Seminoles in physical road victory

By Joe Morgan

TALLAHASSEE — One year ago, coach Will Muschamp called the Gators “soft.” Now he doesn’t question his team’s toughness.

No. 4 Florida scored 24 straight points in the second half to pull out a come-from-behind 37-26 victory against No. 10 Florida State on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Gators’ offensive outburst came after falling behind the Seminoles 20-13 with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter.

“We kept saying the second half is our half,” nose tackle Omar Hunter said. “No matter what, (the) second half is our half. We got to finish the game in the fourth quarter. That is the most important quarter, because you got to finish and we came out and did that.”

Said linebacker Jelani Jenkins: “A lot of the games this year proved that we weren’t a soft team.”

Few can question Florida’s resiliency, especially after halftime.

This is the team that shut down Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel in the second half of a 20-17 victory against Texas A&M on Sept. 8. In a 14-6 win against LSU on Oct. 6, the Gators simply wore down the defending Southeastern Conference champions.

And against rival Florida State in front of a hostile crowd with potential BCS National Championship Game aspirations on the line, Florida dominated the final 20 minutes.

“When we go on the road, our goal is to empty the stadium,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “That’s what we did.”

The Gators’ late rally was a product of their style. Muschamp’s mark on Florida shined brightly as UF prevailed against FSU by controlling the ground game, playing tough defense and winning the turnover battle.

Florida notched a plus-four turnover margin, outgained Florida State 244-112 in the ground game and limiting the Seminoles to just 5.3 plays for 26.4 yards per drive during the second half.

“We knew adversity was going to come, and we stayed positive,” cornerback Marcus Roberson said. “We know things like that are going to happen in the game. We just have to fight through every time. It just shows we are a tough team, and in the second half, we come out strong.”

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