GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Leonard Fournette got LSU going early. Anthony Jennings and Travin Dural picked the Tigers up late. Colby Delahoussaye was the guy getting swarmed by teammates at the very end.
Delahoussaye drilled a 50-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining, making up for a missed extra point, and LSU edged Florida 30-27 on Saturday night.
"Our team is coming," said LSU coach Les Miles, who won his 100th career game. "We'll play better next week and better the week after that."
The Tigers avoided their first 0-3 start in Southeastern Conference play since 1999 and won in Gainesville for the second time in their last five tries.
This one was a thrilling, back-and-forth game that could have gone either way. But LSU (5-2, 1-2 SEC) simply made more plays than Florida (3-2, 2-2) down the stretch.
Fournette, a highly touted freshman from New Orleans, ran for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Jennings completed 10 of 21 passes for 110 yards. He was sacked four times, but made two key throws when it mattered. He connected with Dural twice in three plays in the fourth, a 41-yarder followed by an 11-yard score.
That put LSU in front 27-24, but the Gators answered.
Jeff Driskel found Demarcus Robinson with a perfectly thrown deep ball that gained 73 yards and left Florida with a first-and-goal situation at the 2-yard line. But the Gators failed to punch it in from there, a frustrating possession that will be remembered for Tevin Westbrook dropping a third-down pass in the end zone.
"That goal-line stand at the end of the game was special," Miles said. "They bring it all the way down inside the 10 and look like they'll score to win it, but our defense said no."
Miles called it one of the plays of the game.
The other came a few minutes later, after Florida settled for a short field goal and a tie.
The Gators forced a punt and got the ball back with 54 seconds left, but Driskel's slant pass to Latroy Pittman was tipped and intercepted by Rickey Jefferson. It was Driskel's third turnover of the game.
"I'd like to have that one back," Driskel said.
Pittman was crunched on the play. He rolled over before trainers got to his side and was eventually strapped to a backboard and carted off the field. He was moving his arms and hands, and gave a thumbs-up to fans as he left Florida Field.
"We think Latroy's going to be fine," Muschamp said.
That left the Gators reeling.
Delhoussaye delivered the final blow, but only after a strange play in which it looked like the clock was going to run out. Officials stopped it and then added extra time. Muschamp questioned the decision, which apparently came because Florida defenders were deliberately taking their time getting off the ground in an effort to milk the clock.
It didn't work.
"I had never even tried a kick from 50 yards or longer in a college game," Delhoussaye said. "My nerves were fine. I was nervous on the sideline, but once I walked out on the field, I was calm. I didn't even hear the crowd. I knew the kick was good when I hit it. It was a great feeling."
Florida's bigger problems were Driskel's continued poor play and more dropped passes.
"Had our opportunities — countless," Muschamp said.
Driskel completed 14 of 25 passes for 183 yards for Florida, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Driskel also fumbled, which set up LSU's first touchdown.
Florida's biggest playmaker — arguably the team's only consistent one in the game — was kick returner Andre Debose. The sixth-year senior scored on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter and set up another touchdown with a 53-yarder in the fourth.
It wasn't enough, which surely will fuel more speculation about Muschamp's future.
Muschamp has lost 11 of his last 18 games. This one was supposed to be different. The Tigers were blown out 41-7 at Auburn two weeks ago and had been suspect on both sides of the ball.
But Florida mounted little offense for the third consecutive game.
It surely didn't help that Florida played without leading rusher Matt Jones in the second half. Jones missed practice all week with a swollen left knee and came out of the locker room in street clothes.
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III joined him there after taking a knee to the head.
Florida quarterback Treon Harris wasn't on the field. He watched the game from the coaches' booth because the team wanted to shield the freshman from television cameras a day after a fellow Florida student withdrew a sexual battery complaint against him.
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Posted on Sat, October 11, 2014
by The Lafourche GazetteMARK LONG, AP Sports Writer