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Florida loses in overtime to Missouri; Finishes conference play without a road win

Gators drop fourth contest in last five games
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 8:17 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Coming off a wild, high scoring victory against FCS opponent Samford, Florida traveled to Missouri in the team’s final Southeastern Conference game of the season. But this wasn’t just the conference finale for the Gators, it was also their last shot at winning a league game on the road.

The Gators (5-6, 2-6) hadn’t won an SEC game since beating Vanderbilt on homecoming weekend - Oct. 9 - and were in jeopardy of becoming ineligible for a bowl game if they didn’t win their final two games of the season.

The first half of the game lacked much excitement. Both teams traded field goals in the first and second quarter, as the Tigers ended the half leading 9-6.

In the second half, the action picked up considerably.

Damien Pierce was the only player on either team to score in the third quarter. His two yard touchdown run put Florida in front 13-9.

Despite Florida’s defense holding Missouri (6-5, 3-4) to just nine points through three quarters the eventual busted coverage reared its ugly head in the fourth. On the seventh play of the Tigers drive, with just under 12 minutes left in regulation, Missouri’s Connor Bazelak through a strike to a wide open Nike Hea, who went 41 yards for just the second touchdown of the game between the two teams.

The defensive blunder allowed the Tigers to jump back in front 16-13.

With 8:30 remaining in the period, Gators kicker, Chris Howard, nailed his third field goal of the contest - a 33 yard kick to tie the game the 16-16.

Florida dodged a bullet in the final 2 minutes of the fourth, as Harrison Mevis missed a 46 yard field goal wide right - the kick would’ve given Missouri a 19-16 lead with just over a minute remaining. Instead, Florida took over possession at its own 30 yard line, but elected to not try and push the ball downfield. And eventually punted, before the Tigers kneeled it out to force overtime.

In the first overtime, Florida took possession first, and cashed in on their chance. On third-and-one from Missouri’s six-yard-line, the Gators used some trickery to find the endzone. Wide receiver Trent Whittemore tossed a pass to quarterback Emory Jones, who caught it for the opening score. That put Florida ahead 23-16.

But on the ensuing Tigers possession, they were able to get across the plane to make it a one-point game, and then elected to try for a two-point conversion to attempt to win the game.

On the two-point conversion, Bazelak retreated backwards in the face of oncoming Gator defenders, and threw off his back-foot, in what looked like a move of desperation. Instead, it was a perfect pass to a wide open Daniel Parker Jr. who caught it to seal Florida’s fate.

Missouri won 24-23 in overtime to hand Florida its sixth loss of the season. The Gators finish the year without winning a single conference road game.

Florida’s 2-6 record in the SEC this season is their worst mark since the conference expanded back in 1992.

The Gators will now try to regroup and rest up for their home and season finale against in-state rival, Florida State on Saturday, Nov. 27 at noon.

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