Saturday, February 24, 2018
Colleges

Mornhinweg struggles to spark Gators offense

GAINESVILLE — With 14 seconds left, trailing by six and at the Georgia Southern 17, quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg had two plays to get Florida into the end zone.

But receivers Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton could not haul in passes from the redshirt freshman, and the Gators fell 26-20 to the Division I-AA Eagles on Saturday.

Mornhinweg went 14-of-25 for 122 yards and two touchdowns in his second start for Tyler Murphy, who again sat with a sprained right shoulder.

"I've got to do a better job," Mornhinweg said. "The receivers were running good routes. I've just got to put it in their hands, make some plays."

Despite notching the first touchdown of his college career — a 3-yard pass to Patton that put Florida up 10-0 1:29 into the second quarter — Mornhinweg struggled to spark the passing game for the majority of the game.

A week after throwing for only 107 yards, no touchdowns and an interception on 10-of-13 passing against South Carolina, Mornhinweg was slumping. Through three quarters he had almost as many passing attempts (13) as passing yards (14).

But Mornhinweg was given more freedom to throw in the fourth quarter. In turn, UF's passing attack began clicking.

On second and 10, he took a hit from defensive tackle Blake Riley but launched his pass just in time to Patton for a 46-yard touchdown to make it 20-20 with 5:41 left in the game.

"(Patton) ran a great route," Mornhinweg said. "I just put it out for him, and he made a great play."

But after the Eagles responded with a touchdown on the ensuing drive, Mornhinweg had 2:57 to lead his team into the end zone.

The 6-foot-2 Philadelphia native completed five of his first six passes on the drive, getting Florida to the Georgia Southern 17 with 14 seconds remaining.

On third and 3, Dunbar could not bring down a high throw from Mornhinweg. During the final play of the game, Patton dropped Mornhinweg's pass in the middle of the field as two defenders had the receiver covered.

"We put ourselves in a good spot to win the game," Mornhinweg said.

"We just have to execute better."

If Murphy were to miss Florida's matchup against No. 2 Florida State on Saturday, Mornhinweg likely would start for the third straight game.

But after the loss, coach Will Muschamp said he is "not ruling (Murphy) out for next week at this point."

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