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|Tigers 'swamped' in The Swamp|
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida running back Mike Gillislee led an inspired second-half effort by the 10th-ranked Gators, as No. 4 LSU suffered its first defeat of the season, 14-6, on Saturday at "The Swamp."
LSU (5-1, 1-1 SEC) took a 6-0 lead after a dominating defense performance in the first half. However, the Tigers offense was unable to turn a pair of Florida fumbles into touchdowns. The missed opportunities cost LSU its 18-game regular-season winning streak.
Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC) put together consecutive touchdown-scoring drives in the back half of the game, as Gillislee accounted for both scores and 146 of the Gators' 237 yards of total offense. He had 34 rushing attempts nearly half of the Gators' 70 plays.
Meanwhile, the Tigers struggled to gain any traction against Florida's swarming defense. LSU rushed 25 times for 42 yards, while starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger was 11-of-25 passing for 158 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. led the Tigers with four catches for 78 yards, but his fumble after a 56-yard catch with LSU down by one point was a key miscue.
Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel threw only 12 passes, completing eight for 61 yards. His favorite target was tight end Jordan Reed who had three grabs for 30 yards. Driskel was sacked five times and fumbled one at the Florida 6.
Gators punter Kyle Christy, who averaged 49.1 yards on seven punts, played a key role in keeping LSU pinned back it its own territory.
LSU managed only 1-of-13 third-down conversions, while Florida was 7-of-14 and had a 37:24 to 22:36 advantage in time of possession.
LSU linebacker Kevin Minter had 20 tackles - 17 of which were solo - including two sacks and a forced fumble.
Florida won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. The Gators kicked off from the north to Jarvis Landry who returned 20 yards to the LSU 22.
A 20-yard pass from Mettenberger to Ware out of the backfield quickly moved the Tigers to their 45. A personal foul on fullback J.C. Copeland looked to have doomed the drive, but Florida gave LSU a first down with a dead-ball personal foul of their own.
From the Florida 47, Mettenberger connected with tight end Nic Jacobs for 13 yards to the Florida 34 and Hilliard followed with a 13-yard run to the 21. LSU stalled just short of the redzone when a pass to Copeland out of his fullback position was stopped three yards short of the first-down marker.
Drew Alleman connected on a 31-yard field goal and LSU led 3-0.
The 10-play, 64-yard drive accounted for most of LSU's offense in the first half, as the Tigers and Gators put on a defense and punting exhibition for the rest of the opening half.
Punting with the wind for the first quarter, Florida's Kyle Christy pinned LSU at its 9 and 6-yard line with 51 and 61-yard punts.
Mettenberger's interception early in the second quarter put Florida in it best position of the half at the LSU 38. However, consecutive sacks by Minter of Driskell made Florida punt once again.
A string of seven possessions ended in three-and-outs incuding six punts and the interception, as fans in The Swamp realized they were in for a defensive struggle.
Punting with the wind in the second quarter, LSU's Brad Wing used a 58-yarder to push Florida to its second-worst starting position of the game, it's 29.
After gaining 14 yards on its first four drives, Florida was able advance into LSU territory with its best drive of the half. However, in LSU territory, wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. caught a short pass and had the ball knocked from his hands by Minter. Alexander picked it up on one bounce to end the Gators' first scoring threat.
Alexander returned the fumble 15 yards to the LSU 40, but a sack and penalty quickly put the ball back in Florida's hands.
Gillislee gained a first down rushing to the Florida 26, however, Driscoll was sacked by Bennie Logan and Josh Downs well behind the line of scrimmage on first down. The ball was jarred loose inside the 10, a Florida offensive lineman couldn't handle it, and it was recovered by Barkevious Mingo at the Florida 6.
LSU was unable to push the ball into the endzone and settled for a 21-yard field goal by Alleman that gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead at halftime.
Florida managed only 47 net yards on 32 plays in the half, while LSU had 81 yards on 27 plays.
LSU, which hadn't allowed a point in the third quarter this season, was pushed around by the Gators as several Tigers left the field with injuries or cramps.
Florida put together an eight-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Gillislee's first 12-yard touchdown run.
The PAT put Gators ahead, 7-6, with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter.
On third-and-7, LSU had an opportunity to answer the score when Mettenberger found Beckham Jr. behind the Florida defense. However, after a 56-yard reception, the LSU wide receiver was caught from behind by Matt Elam. Elam stripped the ball loose, and the initial ruling of down by contact was reversed by video review.
With LSU's defense reeling, Florida again made its way down the field and finished consecutive drives with a Gillislee 12-yard touchdown run.
The 11-play drive put Florida ahead, 14-6, early in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing drive, LSU earned its third-down conversion of the game but punted when Hilliard's run came up well short. LSU converted a fourth down late in the game but never capitalized and could not get the ball until there were only 20 seconds remaining. A last-ditch effort resulted in a fumble by Beckham Jr. on a lateral to Landry.
LSU returns to action Saturday when the Tigers play their only home game in the month of October. LSU squares off with South Carolina, another team which entered this weekend ranked in the Top 10. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Report courtesy lsusports.net