Florida hung tough for awhile in the 24th SEC Championship Game, but Alabama eventually pulled away and fought off the Gators’ upset bid. Here’s how it happened:
It was over when… Jacob Coker hit ArDarious Stewart for a 32 yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to make it 22-7 and it was clear Florida had no answers.
Play of the game… Despite the Gators’ woes on offense, Florida actually had the lead late in the first half thanks to an 85 yard punt return touchdown by Antonio Callaway. But Coker lofted a bomb to Calvin Ridley, who fought off two Gator defensive backs to snatch it for a 55 yard gain. That put the ball on the Florida 3 yard line, and two plays later, Alabama took the lead for good on a short touchdown run by Derrick Henry.
Game ball goes to… Coker. The FSU transfer didn’t have the best statistical game, but he made all the plays when he had to and didn’t make mistakes.
Stat of the game… 180. The Gators finished the game with a measly 180 yards of total offense, including just 15 on the ground. Hard to beat top five teams with a stat like that.
What to be proud of… Not much, other than the fact that the Gators kept fighting until the clock hit zero. CJ Worton outmuscling two Alabama defenders to come down with a Hail Mary embodies this team’s grit.
What to work on… Pretty much everything. Florida’s offensive line had a miserable game, (see the Gators’ rushing total stat again) Treon Harris was awful as usual, and even the defense had a bad game, allowing 437 yards of total offense to an Alabama offense that came into the game ranked 57th in the country. Oh, and Alabama also blocked a punt and a field goal. Not exactly a performance to remember.
Bottom line: Alabama was simply the better team, and there’s nothing Florida could have done about it. Without Callaway’s punt return TD and Worton pulling down a Hail Mary, this might have been the ugliest SEC Championship Game of all time, and even with those plays, the Gators’ performance isn’t exactly worthy of gold stars. But perspective is key here. At least Florida got to the SEC Championship Game, something they couldn’t do throughout Will Muschamp’s tenure. And if Jim McElwain could get the Gators there in his first season despite using a glorified running back for over half of it, imagine what he can do with an actual quarterback.
|ALABAMA||1st 9:05||Safety; blocked punt out the back of the end zone||0||2|
|FLORIDA||2nd 11:53||A. Callaway 85 yd punt return (PAT GOOD)||7||2|
|ALABAMA||2nd 5:45||A. Griffith 28 yd FG||7||5|
|ALABAMA||2nd 2:26||D. Henry 2 yd run (PAT GOOD)||7||12|
|ALABAMA||3rd 8:04||A. Griffith 30 yd FG||7||15|
|ALABAMA||3rd 2:49||A. Stewart 32 yd pass from J. Coker (PAT GOOD)||7||22|
|ALABAMA||4th 8:50||R. Mullaney 9 yd pass from J. Coker (PAT GOOD)||7||29|
|FLORIDA||4th 5:02||C. Worton 46 yd pass from T. Harris (T. Harris run for 2 pt)||15||29|