No. 8 Florida Gators hang on for a 14-7 victory over Missouri
It took a goal line stand in the final minute of the game to seal the win, but No. 8 Florida managed to survive first-year SEC member Missouri, earning a 14-7 victory at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday afternoon.
With the Gators holding precariously to a 14-7 lead, Florida’s opportunity to seal the win in the final 1:49 failed when Brad Phillips, in for the injured Caleb Sturgis, sailed a 24-yard field goal attempt wide right. Missouri (4-5, 1-5) took over and led by quarterback James Franklin, drove to the Gators' 21-yard line. But on 4th-and-6, Florida senior safety Josh Evans intercepted Franklin’s pass to hold on for the win.
“I always tell them (defensive players) they are the firemen and they have to go put the fire,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "No matter how bad it is blazing, go put it out. When you go onto the field, your job is to stop them.'' . . It is an opportunity for greatness when you have to make a stop on the goal line. If you want to be great, be put in that situation and do it.’’
The Gator defense battled its way out of difficult situations all day. In five of Missouri’s final six drives, the Gators ended scoring threats with a blocked field goal, a sack, and three interceptions – by Matt Elam, Jon Bostic and Evans. Missouri gained 335 yards, 99 rushing, but Franklin, who has battled an arm and knee injury all season, had four interceptions, and the Tigers were 2-of-13 on third-down conversions and 0-for-2 in the red zone.
Florida (8-1, 7-1 SEC) has won seven SEC games for the 12th time in school history – the most in the SEC since 1991.
"From a personal standpoint, this football team, they feel very strongly tied to each other,’’ Muschamp said. “I think they’ve been through a lot, they’ve been through a lot of adversity that can either make you or break you and I think that our players are determined that it’s going to make who we are.”
More from Muschamp in his postgame comments: