NCAA Game Summary - Florida vs. Ohio State|
(Monday, January 2nd)
Final Score: Florida 24, Ohio State 17
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - Andre Debose set a Gator Bowl record with
a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Florida hung on to beat Ohio
State, 24-17, on Monday.
Debose's return up the left sideline in the second quarter gave Florida the
lead for good and the Gators scored another special teams touchdown after
Chris Rainey blocked a punt in the third quarter.
John Brantley completed 12-of-16 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown for
Florida (7-6) and Rainey rushed 16 times for 71 yards. Linebacker Graham
Stewart scored a 14-yard touchdown after Rainey's block.
Braxton Miller threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-23 passing for
Ohio State (6-7) and Dan Herron carried the ball 12 times for 82 yards.
The game had been dubbed by some as the Urban Meyer Bowl, named after the
former Florida and incoming Ohio State head coach.
While Meyer didn't coach in the game, he certainly had an effect on it after
recruiting much of the current Florida roster before resigning last January.
Meyer has already begun working at Ohio State, although the school let Luke
Fickell finish his final game as interim head coach.
The Gators, who captured two national championships under Meyer, won their
first bowl game under new head coach Will Muschamp, bouncing back from a 2-6
record in their last eight games of the regular season.
Muschamp was happy to avoid a losing season.
"I'm very pleased with the attitude and the effort and the drive of our young
men, and I think they kept fighting in the game," he said. "They kept doing it
the entire season.
"I don't think you can turn the tape on and watch a team that wasn't giving
effort, weren't trying to play with the right kind of toughness."
Ohio State lost its last four games of the season. The Buckeyes won't have
another chance to play in a bowl game until at least 2013 after the NCAA
handed down a one-year postseason ban for the memorabilia scandal that cost
former head coach Jim Tressel his job.
"It was a crazy year," said Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey, who scored
a touchdown. "We've been through everything."
Florida overcame two Brantley fumbles in the first half and his interception
in the second. The first fumble came on the opening drive of the game after
Florida had good field position on an out-of-bounds kickoff.
Ohio State recovered, but punted and Brantley led the Gators downfield for a
7-0 lead on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Thompson between two defenders
in the end zone.
Herron fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, but Brantley gave the
ball back with his second fumble of the game two plays later.
The Buckeyes then tied the game at 7-7 on Miller's five-yard throw to Posey --
just the quarterback's third pass of the game to that point.
As quickly as the game was tied, however, Florida went back on top when Debose
cut to the left sideline and scored untouched on a 99-yard kickoff return to
make it 14-7 Florida.
"No feeling like it," said Debose.
Ohio State pulled within 14-10 on Drew Basil's 37-yard field goal with 15
seconds remaining in the first half.
On the first possession of the second half, and with the two nearest Ohio
State blockers keyed in on one of his teammates, Rainey broke through to block
Ben Buchanan's punt. Stewart corralled the ball on the left side of the field
and rumbled 14 yards to make it 21-10.
Later in the third quarter, the teams exchanged turnovers again. Brantley was
intercepted by Tyler Moeller on a tipped pass, but Posey fumbled three plays
into Ohio State's ensuing possession.
Florida turned it into an 24-10 lead on Caleb Sturgis' 17-yard field goal
early in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Hall slipped out of four tackles on an 11-yard touchdown catch that
drew Ohio State within 24-17 with under a minute to play, but an onside kick
The programs faced each other for only the second time. In the first meeting,
Meyer's Gators beat the Buckeyes 41-14 in the BCS National Championship Game
following the 2006 season...Florida was 3-5 in the SEC this season, while Ohio
State went 3-5 in the Big Ten...The Gators improved to 20-19 in bowl games.
They played in a bowl game for the 21st straight season, the second longest
streak in the country behind Florida State, but hadn't appeared in the Gator
Bowl since December 31, 1992...Ohio State fell to 19-23 in bowl games. The
Buckeyes were playing in their 11th straight bowl game but first Gator Bowl
since a 17-15 loss to Clemson in Woody Hayes' final game as head coach in
01/02 19:24:51 ET