By MIKE BONTS
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Florida’s running game went into high gear Saturday as the Gators ended a two game losing skid to FSU with a 37-26 win before 83,429 in Tallahassee.
With 140 yards on 24 carries and two TDs senior Mike Gillislee became the first Florida player to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in a season since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Florida rushed for 244 yards on 47 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground – FSU had been giving up 70.6 yards per game.
“We had a lot of confidence coming in here being able to run the football. We’ve run it well versus everybody. We’ve run it well versus better defenses,” said Florida coach Will Muschamp.
Nick O’Leary was on the receiving end of Florida State’s first touchdown of the game as the sophomore tight end made a leaping catch for a six-yard TD catch on third down and goal.
“That game was all momentum. If you look at the game, they started off good and they controlled the first downs and we got that little drive before the half to get us three points and we have a little momentum. In the third quarter we changed it and they got the momentum back in the fourth quarter and we still had opportunities,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.
Florida sophomore QB Jeff Driskel was 15-of-23 for 147 yards and one passing touchdown, with no turnovers. Quinton Dunbar had four catches for 25 yards. Dunbar caught a 14-yard pass from Driskel with seven minutes to play
Jordan Reed had four receptions for a team-high 54 yards.
Matt Elam recorded his team-leading fourth interception at UF’s 12-yard line to stop Florida State’s first drive. Elam led the Gator defense with seven tackles – all solo, while sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy finished with six (four unassisted, twp assisted).
Purifoy started at running back on offense and at cornerback on defense, becoming the
first Gator to start both ways since Keiwan Ratliff played cornerback and wide receiver against FSU in 2002.
Bjoern Werner led the FSU’s defense.
The junior recorded the first sack of the game when he dropped Driskel for a nine-yard loss on the Gator’s second drive of the game in the first quarter. He added his second of the game late in the second quarter when he sacked Driskel for a 10-yard loss. Werner now has 13.0 sacks on the year and Carradine has 11.0 sacks.
Werner was credited with a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the third quarter. The junior left end returned the fumble nine yards. It marked Werner’s third career fumble recovery and fourth career forced fumble.