GAINESVILLE — Ten plays. Sixty-two yards. Three minutes and 15 seconds.
That's what separated Florida and LSU on Saturday night.
No. 12 LSU's victory. No. 14 Florida's defeat.
LSU went on a 10-play drive that included a fake field goal and a 28-yard reception with less than a minute remaining and was capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee to Terrence Toliver with six seconds left that gave the Tigers a 33-29 victory in front of 90,721 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
With the victory, LSU (6-0, 4-0 SEC) remains undefeated and embattled coach Les Miles earned his first win at Florida Field. Florida (4-2, 2-2) has now lost consecutive games for only the second time in coach Urban Meyer's six-year tenure.
With starting quarterback John Brantley nursing injured ribs and starting running back Jeff Demps out with a sprained foot, Florida still had a chance to win.
But a critical turnover, penalties, a struggling offense and big plays given up by the defense ultimately were its undoing.
The Gators had just 243 total yards, including 89 rushing. Meanwhile, they gave up 385 yards to the Tigers, including 224 to a team that entered ranked No. 112 among 120 Division I-A teams in passing offense.
"Obviously, we have a bunch of guys that gave everything they have, but there are guys who haven't given everything yet," Meyer said. "We've got to find a way to get that. Right now, we should be better than we are, and we've got to work our tails off."
Florida trailed 26-14 after quarterback Jordan Jefferson's 3-yard touchdown run 43 seconds into the fourth quarter. For a Florida offense that up to that point had amassed just 50 rushing yards on 24 carries and 99 passing yards, a comeback seemed unlikely.
Then came a spark from the Gators' special teams.
Redshirt freshman Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a score to pull the Gators within 26-21.
"If there's a positive, we identified an electric playmaker," Meyer said.
Florida took a 29-26 lead with 3:21 remaining on a 5-yard run by Mike Gillislee and two-point conversion pass from Brantley to Frankie Hammond.
"We knew we had a chance, but we knew we didn't have it in the bag," said Brantley, 16-of-24 for 154 yards and one interception.
He was right.
The Tigers responded with the winning 62-yard drive. It included two key plays.
The first was kicker Josh Jasper's 5-yard run on the fake field goal on fourth and 3 from the Florida 36 with 35 seconds left. Holder Drew Alleman started the play by taking the snap, lateraling the ball, which hit the ground, and Jasper picked it up and ran for the first down.
The play underwent an official review after the Gators believed it was an incomplete pass because the ball hit the ground in front of Alleman.
But the review confirmed the on-field officials' call of a lateral.
On the next play, Toliver caught a pass over the middle and went for 28 yards.
"I'm disappointed we didn't make a stop when we needed to," Meyer said.
For the second straight week, mistakes were costly for the Gators, particularly at the end of the first half.
Florida trailed 20-14 at halftime after LSU scored 10 points in the final 1:31 of the first half. Leading 14-10 after a 1-yard run by freshman quarterback Trey Burton with 5:04 remaining, the Gators seemed poised to enter halftime with the lead.
But the Gators were hit with two penalties on the first possession after taking the lead — an illegal block in the back on a punt return and an unsportsmanlike conduct call — that pinned them on their 5.
After going three-and-out, senior Chas Henry's 38-yard punt gave LSU possession at the Florida 39. Two plays and 27 seconds later, Toliver caught a 38-yard pass from Lee to give LSU a 17-14 lead with 1:22 remaining.
Then two plays into Florida's next possession, senior running back Emmanuel Moody fumbled after a 17-yard gain with 1:04 remaining in the half. Five plays later, Jasper's 39-yard field goal as time expired gave the Tigers a 20-14 lead.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]