Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ahmad Black makes key play in Florida Gators' Outback Bowl win

Florida safety Ahmad Black chose not to celebrate after returning an interception for a touchdown with less than a minute to go.

Associated Press

Florida safety Ahmad Black chose not to celebrate after returning an interception for a touchdown with less than a minute to go.

TAMPA — With Florida clinging to a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter Saturday, a flood of memories rushed to senior strong safety Ahmad Black.

Penn State had marched more than 50 yards deep into Florida territory, and with just more than a minute left, the Nittany Lions looked poised to spoil Black's final game in a Gators uniform. But Black thought back to the most important game he ever played.

"They were driving down the field, and I was thinking, 'We need a play, we need a play,' " he said. "That was similar to the (2008) national championship game. They were running the ball up and down our throat, getting first down after first down. We had to come up with some way to stop them."

Like he did against Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma Sooners his sophomore season, when he helped seal Florida's victory with an interception, Black stepped in front of a pass intended for Penn State tight end Kevin Haplea and returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown as the Gators closed their season with a 37-24 win in the Outback Bowl.

"That's a storybook ending for him, to take the interception back and point at the crowd," freshman cornerback Cody Riggs said. "There's nothing else you could ask for, nothing better for him."

On his way into the end zone, Black thought about spiking the ball but nixed the idea, telling coach Urban Meyer he remembered a less glamorous moment from his sophomore campaign.

After returning an interception for a touchdown in 2008, Black formed an "L" with his arms as a shoutout to Lakeland, his hometown. Meyer scolded him on the sideline after the celebration, threatening to bench the safety if he showboated again.

So this time, Black held back.

"Ahmad Black is one of my closest friends," Meyer said. "I can call him a friend now because he's not my player; he's family. Ahmad Black is not the Ahmad Black we got four years ago. Ahmad Black has turned into a grown man."

Black led Florida with six tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups on his way to MVP honors. The effort was a fitting finale for the player who led the Gators with 108 tackles and five interceptions this season.

While those stats make Black a clear favorite among Florida coaches and teammates, his future is in doubt because of other numbers: 5 feet 9, 190 pounds.

Still, Black said he has read the criticism and doesn't care.

"I guess I'm too small and too slow," he said, minutes after hoisting the MVP trophy.

Ahmad Black makes key play in Florida Gators' Outback Bowl win 01/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 1, 2011 9:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.