Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Winning kick fulfills "dream" for Florida Gator kicker Caleb Sturgis

GAINESVILLE — Caleb Sturgis saw it coming.

The Florida sophomore watched Arkansas' Alex Tejada miss a 38-yard field goal with 3:08 remaining. He figured Florida's offense would take the ball from the Arkansas 21 and put the game in his hands.

With 13 seconds left, Sturgis walked onto Florida Field.

Four seconds later, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium erupted, and he became a hero.

Sturgis converted a 27-yard field goal to give coach Urban Meyer his first victory by a kick in the final seconds. The field goal also allowed the top-ranked and undefeated Gators to escape with their 16th consecutive victory, the nation's longest current streak.

It was Sturgis' first winning field goal at any level.

"That's always your dream. I grew up a Gator fan," he said. "It was a pretty awesome experience."

Pretty good for a 20-year-old from St. Augustine who didn't even start the season as Florida's kicker.

That was fifth-year senior Jonathan Phillips, who connected on 12 of 13 field goals and 78 of 79 extra points a year ago. But Phillips, now a first-year law student at Florida, missed his first field goal of the season — a 39-yarder against Troy — then was beat out in practice by Sturgis.

Now for the second straight week, Florida was depending on Sturgis. Last week at LSU, he made a 32-yard field goal with 7:27 left in the game to widen the Gators' lead to 10.

But Sturgis also dealt with adversity for the second straight week. In Baton Rouge, he missed a 20-yard field goal. Saturday against Arkansas, Sturgis missed a 37-yarder on UF's opening possession.

But he regained his composure to connect from 30 and 51 yards before the winner.

The 51-yarder with 4:07 into the third was the longest by a Gator since Matt Leach's 52-yarder against Georgia on Oct. 30, 2004.

"He pounds the ball," Meyer said.

"Sturgis has been hitting the ball good. I have a lot of confidence, obviously, to have Sturgis go win the game for us."

Sturgis' teammates shared the sentiment, even if they themselves couldn't watch the kick.

"I didn't watch. I didn't listen. I took my helmet off and covered my ears. I didn't want to know what was going on," cornerback Joe Haden said. "I had confidence in him … but then I was thinking, 'Nine seconds left — it's not practice. If you miss, you don't do it again.' "

Sturgis said as soon as he kicked it, he knew it was good.

After all, he had seen it coming.

Winning kick fulfills "dream" for Florida Gator kicker Caleb Sturgis 10/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 17, 2009 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …