The Florida Gators (6-6) defeated Florida State (5-7) 24-21 on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville. The win gives the Gators bowl eligibility under interim coach Greg Knox, while the loss ends Florida State's season without a chance to play in a bowl game.
The Gators have now won three in a row in the rivalry series, which resumed for the first time since 2019 after the teams did not play each other in the COVID-impacted 2020 campaign.
The Gators, playing for the first time since the university fired head coach Dan Mullen on Sunday, were led by Anthony Richardson coming off the bench to play quarterback. Tied 7-7 in the third quarter, Emory Jones threw a pass that was nearly intercepted that prompted the Gators to make a change. Jones finished the game 16-for-24 with 163 yards, one touchdown and three first half interceptions.
Richardson, a redshirt freshman, promptly led the Gators into field goal range that gave Florida a 10-7 lead. He threw a 5-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to take a 17-7 lead - then, early in the fourth quarter, Dameon Pierce ran in a 3-yard touchdown to make it 24-7 with 12:36 to go in the game. Pierce finished the game with 62 yards on the ground to lead the Gators in rushing.
The Seminoles fought valiantly to get back into this one, beginning when Treshaun Ward ran in a 19-yard touchdown with 9:46 to go in the game. The Seminoles drove the ball down the field late, ending when Jordan Travis hit Ontaria Wilson for an eight-yard touchdown to pull the 'Noles within 24-21. However, they were unable to recover an onside kick and the Gators secured the three-point win.
Travis finished the game 18-for-29 with 202 yards passing and one touchdown, while running for another 102 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
For Florida State, their season ends with a 5-7 record under head coach Mike Norvell, who had seen his team play better and better down the stretch to get into position to earn bowl eligibility in the final day. They look ahead to spring training and Norvell's third season guiding the Seminoles football fortunes. The Gators will now be the ones who await to find out if they will play in a bowl game, just six days after firing their head coach and with uncertainty hovering over the program's future.
PHOTO COURTESY GETTY IMAGES