- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Driskel followed his best throw of the season with one of his worst.

Driskel rallied Florida in the final minutes against LSU, connecting on a perfectly thrown ball to Demarcus Robinson that gained 73 yards and set up the game-tying field goal, but he ended the game with an ill-advised slant pass that got tipped and intercepted.

Rickey Jefferson returned the interception 23 yards, setting up Colby Delahoussaye’s 50-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining that gave LSU a 30-27 victory at Florida Field on Saturday night.

“I’d like to have that one back,” Driskel said.

So would the Gators (3-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference), who now probably need to win their next four games to clinch the Eastern Division title.

It remains to be seen whether Driskel will remain the team’s starter.

Driskel has seven interceptions and eight turnovers in the last three games - all offensive struggles for Florida.

He might have been benched this week, but backup Treon Harris was suspended Monday while authorities investigated an alleged sexual battery against him. A female student accused Harris of sexually assaulting her at an on-campus residence hall early last Sunday, just hours after Harris led a comeback at Tennessee.

The woman withdrew the complaint Friday, and Harris was reinstated by the university and the football team. But coach Will Muschamp decided to keep him out of the game because he missed practice and meetings all week.

Harris watched the game from the coaches’ booth, sitting close to offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

“It was a very taxing and difficult week for him,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “It was a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Everybody’s a victim in this situation, including Treon. This isn’t good for anyone. No one wins in this situation. I feel sorry for all the parties involved.”

Driskel completed 14 of 25 passes for 183 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also fumbled, which set up LSU’s first touchdown.

Driskel’s feet were his best asset. He ran 21 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.

But when the Tigers started stacking the box, it slowed Driskel down. He failed several times to soften the defense with deep throws to Robinson. When they did finally hit one, it set up a first-and-goal situation at the 2-yard line. But the Gators failed to punch it in from there, a frustrating possession that will be remembered for Tevin Westbrook dropping a third-down pass in the end zone.

“Had our opportunities - countless,” Muschamp said.

The Gators forced a punt and got the ball back with 54 seconds left, but Driskel’s pass to Latroy Pittman was intercepted. It was Driskel’s third turnover of the game.

Pittman was crunched on the play. He rolled over before trainers got to his side and was eventually strapped to a backboard and carted off the field. He was moving his arms and hands, and gave a thumbs-up to fans as he left Florida Field.

“We think Latroy Pittman’s going to be fine,” Muschamp said. “He had all movement. More than anything, it was precautionary to make sure he’s going to be OK.”

That left the Gators reeling.

Delahoussaye delivered the final blow.

Florida’s biggest playmaker - arguably the team’s only consistent one in the game - was kick returner Andre Debose. The sixth-year senior scored on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter and set up another touchdown with a 53-yarder in the fourth.

It wasn’t enough, which surely will fuel more speculation about Muschamp’s future.

Muschamp has lost 11 of his last 18 games. This one was supposed to be different. The Tigers were blown out 41-7 at Auburn two weeks ago and had been suspect on both sides of the ball.

But Florida mounted little offense for the third consecutive game.

It surely didn’t help that the Gators played without leading rusher Matt Jones in the second half. Jones missed practice all week with a swollen left knee and came out of the locker room in street clothes.

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III joined him there after taking a knee to the head.

“The emotions were going up and down, and the scoreboard was going back and forth,” Debose said. “It was definitely an emotional wreck. But this is what you come to Florida for - these type of games.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide