Kentucky Drops Triple-OT Thriller to Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Matt Jones' 1-yard plunge in triple overtime gave Florida a 36-30 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night, extending the Gators' winning streak in the Southeastern Conference series to 28 games.
Kentucky's Austin MacGinnis, who hit a 51-yarder to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, missed a 41-yarder to start the third extra frame.
Jones had consecutive big runs that put Florida at the 1 and then slammed through the line on second down for the game-winner.
The play of the game was Florida's fourth-and-7 conversion in the first overtime. Jeff Driskel floated a ball to the back corner of the end zone and found Demarcus Robinson for a 9-yard score.
Robinson finished with 15 receptions for 216 yards and two scores. He tied Carlos Alvarez's school record for catches in a single game.
No other Florida receiver caught more than two passes. Driskel completed 25 of 43 passes for 295 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception.
Jones finished with 29 carries for 156 yards and a score.
Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) was an 18-point favorite in the game, no surprise given how lopsided the series has been. The Gators haven't lost to Kentucky (2-1, 0-1) since 1986 and haven't lost a game against the Wildcats at Florida Field since 1979.
The streak looked to be in jeopardy several times late in the SEC opener for both teams.
On Kentucky's first play of overtime, Stanley Williams reversed field, outran several tackles and scored from 25 yards out. The Gators struggled to answer, but eventually did on the fourth-down play.
The teams exchanged field goals in the second overtime. Florida could have found the end zone, but Driskel was late delivering the ball to Robinson near the front pylon.
Frankie Velez hit from 20-yard out to send it to the third extra frame.
Velez missed from 39 yards out in the fourth quarter that would have given Florida a little breathing room.
Austin Hardin, Florida's stronger-legged kicker, had a chance to win it regulation. But he pushed his 52-yarder wide right.
Towles picked apart Florida's inexperienced secondary, throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson was his top target, finishing with six catches for 154 yards. He burned the Gators for a 60-yard touchdown, and then added a 33-yard score on the next drive.
Florida and coach Will Muschamp, who entered this season on the hot seat, looked to be in big trouble.
But Robinson bailed them out. He caught a ball that ricocheted off Fred Tiller's hands and turned it into a 33-yard gain. Driskel found Tevin Westbrook for a 10-yard score on the next play.
Robinson was even better on the next drive, catching three passes for 42 yards, including a 9-yard score that put Florida ahead. It looked like it would be for good, but Towles put the Wildcats in position for the game-tying field goal.
The Gators pulled it out in overtime.
They play at Alabama next week - arguably their toughest test of the season.
Kentucky, meanwhile, won't call this a morale victory. But the Wildcats are clearly making strides under second-year coach Mark Stoops.
Florida's first half - the whole game, really - was one the home crowd surely would like to forget.
The Gators were hampered by costly penalties, dropped passes, a missed call and poor play by Driskel.
Driskel completed 7 of 20 passes for 161 yards in the first half, but overthrew Quinton Dunbar twice, sailed one a couple yards out of bounds to Robinson and threw a wobbler that Nate Willis intercepted.
Florida made some plays, with Robinson catching just about everything thrown his way and Kelvin Taylor and Jones finding holes on the ground.
Robinson became the first Florida player with consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Jabar Gaffney in 2001.
Still, it wasn't enough to get the Gators in the end zone early.
Several plays contributed to Florida's woes. Latroy Pittman and tight end Clay Harbor dropped passes, and right tackle Rod Johnson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.