Saturday, September 22, 2018
Colleges

A deflating end to Florida’s season

GAINESVILLE — There was no eulogy for Florida’s season in the Gator locker room. The scoreboard said it all.

"We hate to lose against Florida State," senior punter Johnny Townsend said. "When that happens, there’s not really a lot to say."

Four turnovers dashed any chance of a moral victory, as the Gators limped to a 38-22 loss Saturday in the Swamp.

Of Florida State’s 38 points, 28 came from quarterback Feleipe Franks’ turnovers — one fumble and three picks.

"Too many interceptions," UF interim coach Randy Shannon said. "Trying to create some plays, but throwing the ball today wasn’t very good for us."

Franks, a redshirt freshman, completed 18-of-39 passes for 184 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

"It’s something I need to improve on going into the offseason," Franks said.

And while Florida State’s secondary swiped his passes, FSU’s defensive front leveled Franks, sacking him five times.

"My left shoulder is pretty bad," Franks said. "My ribs hurt pretty bad right now when I breathe."

Even when bruised and beleaguered, the Gators (4-7) kept the game close until the final quarter. They tied the score at 7 heading into the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run from redshirt senior Mark Thompson.

Before halftime, Florida senior Brandon Powell hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass to cut the Seminoles’ lead to 24-13.

"That says a lot about his character and a lot of things he went through this year," Thompson said of Powell, who tallied nine catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Gator.

An Eddy Pineiro field goal from 45 yards out brought the Gators within one score before the start of the final quarter. But back-to-back Seminole (5-6) touchdowns stamped out any spark the Gators tried to ignite.

"It sucks. A lot of guys are really hurt right now," sophomore receiver Josh Hammond said. "But we’re a young team. We’ve got a lot to build on."

An already young Florida defense will lose a few of its more reliable playmakers. Senior cornerback Duke Dawson pulled in an interception in his final game as a Gator. Florida’s duo of redshirt juniors along the defensive line, Taven Bryan and CeCe Jefferson, combined for half a sack and four tackles for loss in what could be their last game in Gainesville if they choose to cash in on high NFL draft stock.

The most important vacancy remains the head coaching position. Chip Kelly was announced as UCLA’s new coach during the Gators game, and UCF’s Scott Frost hasn’t hinted toward his offseason intentions after leading the Knights to an 11-0 regular season.

"The new coach has to come in here and just get us in position to win," Hammond said. "I think guys here are ready to play."

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