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Justin Trattou's interception helps Florida Gators escape

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For the second time in four years, Steve Spurrier came close to leading an unranked South Carolina team to an upset of Florida.

And just like the last time, a Gators defensive lineman made the play of the game.

In 2006, Jarvis Moss blocked a last-second field goal to preserve a 17-16 win.

In Saturday's 24-14 victory, Florida led by just three points when Justin Trattou collected a fourth-quarter interception and returned it 53 yards.

The Gators scored four plays later on a Tim Tebow 1-yard run to go ahead 24-14.

Defensive line coach Dan McCarney called it possibly the biggest defensive play of the year.

"(That was) huge. The whole field was tilting," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "The field shifted back. Momentum completely swung. You felt it in the stadium. That'll go down in history as one of the great plays."

South Carolina trailed 17-14 after three quarters but had the ball on the Florida 22 facing third and 3.

Quarterback Stephen Garcia dropped back on the first play of the fourth quarter and threw a pass intended for Moe Brown. But the ball hit Brown's facemask and popped into the air.

Trattou had been blocked to the ground but regained his footing just in time to look up and see the ball.

The junior defensive end caught it at chest level then headed downfield with almost the entire defense ahead of him blocking. He made it to the South Carolina 26 before tripping over the legs of teammate Jermaine Cunningham.

"That was the big play of the game," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "They're driving the ball, have the chance to get either a field goal or touchdown.

"That changed the whole outcome."

Trattou's second career interception came just four weeks after he tore his left biceps tendon. He said he fell on his shoulder against Arkansas on Oct. 17, causing the tendon to tear a little bit. Then he got hit on the spot later in the game, causing the tendon to pop off and ball up lower on his arm.

Meyer said the injury typically requires 3-5 weeks of rehabilitation. But Trattou sat out one game and returned against Georgia, two weeks after the initial injury.

"It would have to be an injury requiring surgery to keep me out for the year," Trattou said. "If it was a matter of dealing with a little pain here and there, it's not going to keep me out."

Justin Trattou's interception helps Florida Gators escape 11/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:17pm]
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