The Top Ten Plays of the 2015 Gator Football Season

#10: Kelvin Taylor’s knockout TD run against Georgia

Already way ahead of Georgia in their annual showdown in Jacksonville, the Gators were looking for more with seven minutes left- and got it on a seemingly simple play-call. Treon Harris took the shotgun snap, and handed it to Kelvin Taylor on a draw. Taylor took off to his left, juked Georgia corner Malkom Parrish out of his shoes, and trotted into the end zone for a 16 yard touchdown that made it 27-3. Taylor finished his Gator career with 394 yards and four touchdowns in three games against Georgia, so putting a truly evil move on a Bulldog for a touchdown seems like a fitting conclusion to his three year reign of Dog dominance. (Honorable mention goes to Jordan Scarlett for breaking the 60 yard run that got them in the red zone to begin with.)

#9: Antonio Callaway’s one handed catch and run against Kentucky

No better time to channel your inner Odell Beckham Jr. than on the road in a close game. Will Grier probably threw this ball a little too far, but Antonio Callaway reached out with his right arm and pulled it in anyway. Callaway then proceeded to shake his defender, who eventually caught up with him… after he’d gained an additional 15 yards. Nobody knew it then, but this was the first highlight reel play in a long list of them for Callaway, who quickly grew into a bona fide star.

#8: Jalen Tabor’s pick six against Missouri

After Florida raced out to an early 14-3 lead over the Tigers in Columbia, both offenses stalled and the scoring stopped. That is, until the third quarter, when Jalen Tabor stepped in front of a careless pass from Drew Locke and took it 40 yards to the house. That was Tabor’s second pick six of the season, and this one helped bury the two time defending SEC East Champs both in the game (which Florida won 21-3) and in the race for the division (which the Gators ended up running away with).

#7: Cece Jefferson’s one handed fumble recovery against Mississippi

The Gators had wrapped this game up well before the fourth quarter, but Cece Jefferson made fans who turned the TV off regret it. Up 31-3, Alex McCalister flew around the edge and popped Chad Kelly from behind, causing the ball to float upwards like a bunted pop-up, and Jefferson was more than happy to play the role of the charging third baseman. Jefferson navigated his way through two Ole Miss linemen, snatched the ball with one hand and returned it 13 yards to the shadow of the goal line. Utterly meaningless given the lopsided score, but truly awesome to behold.

#6: Jordan Cronkrite’s “interception” against South Carolina

More often than not, when Treon Harris makes a bad decision, the Gators pay for it. But not this time. Harris threw a ball he absolutely should not have, right into double coverage, intended for Jordan Cronkrite. Both Gamecock defensive backs had better shots at the ball than Cronkrite, but he somehow came back, snuck in behind one of them and snatched the ball away, saving Harris from a sure interception. Cronkrite then wheeled around and lost his defender, and jogged the remaining ten yards to the end zone. The play proved to be beyond crucial in a 24-14 win.

#5: Antonio Morrison’s strip-sack against Florida Atlantic

Some world we live in where a play against lowly FAU is one of the top five of the season. But this play by Antonio Morrison may have saved the Gators from the unthinkable horror of losing to their second cupcake opponent in three years. Locked in a scoreless tie in the third quarter, Florida desperately needed a spark, and Morrison obliged by clobbering FAU QB Jason Driskel (yes, Jeff’s brother) and knocking the ball out. Taven Bryan recovered, and returned the ball down to the goal line; two plays later, Kelvin Taylor scored. Given that Florida needed overtime to win this game, I shudder in fright at how this game might have ended without this play.

#4: Jalen Tabor’s “assist” to Keanu Neal against Georgia

There was the faintest, slightest glimmer of hope for Georgia in the aforementioned 2015 Cocktail Party early in the fourth quarter. Down 20-3, Georgia mounted a last-ditch drive that got as far as the Florida five. But Florida’s secondary snuffed the threat on a play that defined the word “teamwork.” Jalen Tabor couldn’t quite get in front of Faton Bauta’s throw enough to intercept it, so he deferred to a teammate who could. He extended his arm, made a fist, and backhand-punched the ball right to safety Keanu Neal. End of drive. End of game. End of Georgia’s SEC East hopes. End of Mark Richt’s Georgia career.

#3: Antonio Callaway’s 66 yard touchdown catch against Georgia

Georgia’s first clue that they were in for a long day featuring them being on the wrong side of Gator highlights should have been Nick Washington recovered Reggie Davis’s muff on a punt for a touchdown. But this play left no doubt that they were here to play sparring partner. Treon Harris didn’t have the best day against Georgia, losing a fumble and misfiring left and right, but it only took one play to counteract all that. With a 6-0 lead, Harris rolled to his left, and lobbed a bomb to Antonio Callaway, who’d made toast of safety Jonathan Abrams and was now wide open. Callaway slowed up just a little to catch the ball in stride, shook Abrams again and cruised into the end zone. Leave it to Georgia to make Treon Harris look like Cam Newton.

#2: Austin Hardin’s game winning field goal against Vanderbilt

Austin Hardin has taken a beating for not doing well at the job he was given a scholarship to do, but damn it if he didn’t come through in the clutch when he was needed most. Florida’s offense had struggled all day against Vanderbilt, and for awhile it really looked like the Gators would lose as the halftime score of 7-6 remained the same deep into the fourth quarter. Florida finally got some momentum by driving into Vandy territory, but the drive stalled at the Commodores’ 26 with 2:27 remaining. In came Hardin, who was still battling with walk-ons Neil MacInnes and Dallas Stubbs for the kicker position, to try a potential game winning field goal. Hardin may have missed plenty of field goals in his time at Florida, but he didn’t miss this one. Florida then held on defense to win, clinching the SEC East title.

#1: “The Thri11 at Ben Hi11” (Will Grier to Antonio Callaway against Tennessee)

Is there really any doubt about what #1 was? The Gators appeared left for dead against the Vols, trailing 27-14 with ten minutes to go. Florida’s ten game winning streak over Tennessee was on life support, and the Swamp was in stunned silence. Will Grier gave the Gators a pulse with a touchdown pass to Brandon Powell on a quick out route, and a subsequent Gator defensive stop strengthened it, but then it looked like it was time to bid farewell to the streak for good as Florida faced a 4th and 14 at its own 37. And then came a play straight out of a fairy tale: Grier fired a bullet to an inexplicably open Callaway at the Tennessee 45, who then spun around, got the sideline, took advantage of a sweet block from Powell that mowed down two Vol defenders at once and raced untouched to the end zone for a miraculous, unbelievable, incredible, jaw-dropping touchdown that, after a narrowly missed desperation field goal attempt from Aaron Medley, gave Florida its 11th straight win over the Vols.

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