Randall Leads Tiger Comeback Over No. 12 Florida, 24-21
LSU Sports Interactive
GAINESVILLE, FLA. -- LSU 24, Florida 21. Tiger fans, fill in your own adjectives here to describe what you just saw on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field as the 24th-ranked Tigers upset the 12th-ranked Gators.
It was another special night for the LSU football team. Wait a minute. Make that capital TEAM as the players came together in a way that hadn't been seen yet this season.
LSU rallied after spotting the Gators 14 points off two turnovers in the first quarter and playing with a swagger and confidence not seen earlier in the year, rode the arm and the legs of senior quarterback Marcus Randall, as the Tigers culminated a touchdown drive in the final 30 seconds to win for the fourth time in six games, evening its Southeastern Conference record at 2-2. Florida falls to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC.
Randall capped LSU's third long drive of the fourth quarter with a misdirection pass to Joseph Addai in the flat from 10 yards out to finish a six-play, 50-yard march that started with 2:15 on the clock and crossed the goal line with 27 seconds to play to give LSU the lead for the only time in the game. Ryan Gaudet hit the extra point to give LSU the winning margin.
LSU set up the touchdown pass as Addai knocked big holes in the reeling Florida defensive line of 16, 12 and 6 yards prior to his touchdown catch.
Florida got the ball back on the kickoff at the 23-yard line with 22 seconds to play. Florida quarterback Chris Leak threw incomplete twice and then completed a pass for 22 yards to the Florida 45 as time ran off touching off a celebration on the LSU bench and from the thousands of LSU fans on hand in 'The Swamp.'
"It was a great game and I've never been prouder of our players for coming off a humiliation against a good team on the road (Georgia) and take the challenge to show the pride and the performance that they had. My approach is it's down and dirty time for this team and we've got to quit worrying about what we did last year in the championship that we won and start thinking about the things that made us champions. Resiliency is to invoke, respect and fear through constant pressure and that game out there, the way we played was exactly that. You couldn't define the game any better," said LSU Coach Nick Saban on his LSU Sports Network post-game show. "The way we kept coming back. We got behind 14-0. We made mistakes, we played through them. The resiliency, the competitive spirit of this team. This team grew up and came together as a team because of this."
"We did a good job of executing in all areas and I really think it helped the quarterbacks in the game that everyone around them played better. This was the best our offensive line played by far. We had some great runs by three different runners who played with tremendous tenacity out there. Joseph Addai was fantastic. Shyrone Carey did a nice job. Alley (Broussard) was his usual tough, hard bruising type," said Saban.
The Tigers rolled up 210 yards on the ground and 254 in the air, out gaining the Gators, 464-236, getting 29 first downs to 14 for Florida. Randall, who came in for an injured JaMarcus Russell after Russell started the first game of his collegiate career, was 18-of-27 for 198 yards with one interception and two touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 46 yards. Addai finished the game with 96 yards rushing and 26 receiving.
"We made some nice catches and made some plays in the passing game," said Saban. "Marcus I've always felt comes off the bench better. He did it tonight and did a good job. I was proud of the way JaMarcus played early in the game, too bad we got some bad field position and those two turnovers were tough to take, but we overcame it because we were going to play for 60 minutes and wear them out which I think is the reason we won the game."
Twice before in the fourth quarter, LSU had long sustained drives with Randall's passing and scrambling and the LSU running backs getting big chunks of yardage. But each time the play moved deep in Florida territory, the Gators stiffened, forcing a blocked 35-yard Chris Jackson field goal to stop an 11-play, 75-yard drive with no points and LSU down 21-17 and then LSU was forced to punt with 3:49 to play when a 10-play, 41-yard drive stalled at the Florida 39.
But Nick Saban's decision to punt proved timely as the ball was downed at the three and eventually Florida would have to punt back to the Tigers for the game-winning drive.
"We can put them inside the five yard line and with all of our time outs left and get the ball back with over two minutes. Even if they had gotten one first down we would have had a chance to get the ball back in plenty of time to win the game. I just think field position in a situation like that