Tide survives in the Swamp
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver
It was 85 degrees and partly cloudy in Gainesville, Florida, while seats filled up with a sea of blue and orange in “The Swamp.”
Most of these fans remember what happened last time, when the University of Alabama took down the Florida Gators 52-46 in the National Championship.
On Saturday, the humid air, the chomping of the crowd and last year’s memories could have been a recipe for revenge, but Florida wound up on the chopping block against Alabama, losing 31-29.
Going into the game, Bama led Florida in the series 27-14, including winning the last seven.
But the Crimson Tide hadn’t been in Gainesville in 10 years as No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Florida kicked off.
The Tide started with the ball. With a completely different offense from last time, Saban needed to remodel how they played the Gators.
On the third play of the game, Bryce Young launched it to Jameson Williams, but UF safety Trey Dean III interfered with the pass and got flagged for it. This set them up in a good field position. Running back Brian Robinson Jr. would later run for 23 yards to the UF five-yard line.
The drive ended with a screen pass to running back Jase McClellan for a touchdown. The backup running back had three total touchdowns last week against Mercer last week.
It was the Gators’ turn to bring “The Swamp” to start chomping for offensive success. Due to multiple offsides by the heavily disciplined Crimson Tide defense, UF was able to split it through the uprights for a field goal.
With 5:37 left in the first quarter, Jase McClellan made another great play. McClellan caught another screen pass, but in front of him was a defender. He made a defender miss by going down towards the ground (but didn’t have a knee on the ground) and then ran past him for a 9-yard gain.
Later on that drive, Young hit tight end Jahleel Billingsley, who tight-roped his way for a 26-yard touchdown. Billingsley was suspended for the first game of the season and didn’t have a catch last week.
On third-down, Florida quarterback Emory Jones was hit by linebacker Drew Sanders while throwing it to a receiver. Due to being under pressure, the throw was intercepted by defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis.
Sanders has been filling in for linebacker Chris Allen who injured his foot against Miami and is out for the season.
Bryce Young would then throw a touchdown pass to Brian Robinson from seven yards out to put the Tide up 21-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, on fourth down and six, Bama defensive back Josh Jobe had a pass interference, which put UF in good field position. Florida running back Malik Davis then broke multiple tackles and scores a touchdown from 26 yards out. to make it 21-9. The extra point was no good (which would be costly later on in the game).
The entire second half was like last year, an offensive shootout.
The first three drives (two by Florida, one by Bama), were touchdowns.
Bama would then hit a field goal with 9:25 left in regulation to make it 31-23.
Down eight with limited time, Emory Jones knew he had to lead his productive offense down the field once again. However, even if he scored he would need to go for a two-point conversion to tie the game.
After a 12-play drive, running back Dameon Pierce ran it in for six from 17 yards out with three minutes left in regulation.
The score was now 31-29. The biggest play of the game was about to happen.
UF head coach Dan Mullen had his team run a confusing option play. However, the Tide shut them down as they were short of the goal line, keeping the final score 31-29.
This year’s game went a lot differently than most people thought. Due to Florida’s three best players leaving for the NFL, the world thought that Bama would easily win today.
However, through hard work, good coaching and the extremely loud crowd of 90,000, this game was a thriller in “The Swamp”.