Lamical Perine scored twice on short runs, including one after a trick play in the fourth quarter, and No. 22 Florida beat fifth-ranked LSU 27-19 Saturday in another nail-biter in the series.
Brad Stewart’s 25-yard interception return for a touchdown — the first pick Joe Burrow has thrown this season — essentially sealed the victory for the Gators (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference).
Florida scored all its points after 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow became the sixth player to be inducted into the school’s ring of honor.
With Tebow watching much of the game from the sideline, Florida looked a little like a championship contender.
Perine grinded out tough yards, Florida’s defense was as good as it’s been all season and the difference was another perfect play call by coach Dan Mullen.
A week after beating Mississippi State with a double pass, Feleipe Franks handed off to seldom-used tight end Lucas Krull, slipped around the right end mostly unnoticed and caught a 15-yard pass from Krull that set up Perine’s second score.
The drive was huge for Florida, which had dropped six of the last eight in the series and two in a row in Gainesville. It immediately followed LSU’s go-ahead drive that featured two long runs from Nick Brossettte.
Brossette ran for 79 yards on the drive, including a 2-yard plunge that put the Tigers (5-1, 2-1) up 19-14 with 8:48 to play.
Florida answered, but didn’t put LSU away until Stewart’s interception and then another one on fourth down on the ensuing possession.
LSU: The Tigers played good enough defense to win their third straight in Gainesville, but they mustered little on the other side of the ball after an opening-drive touchdown. LSU marched 75 yards on 10 plays, presumably scripted, to open the game but never looked the same. Burrow was sacked five times.
Florida: Linebacker Vosean Joseph had the best game of his career, something the Gators will try to build on going forward. The junior finished with 14 tackles, including two sacks. His strip-sack on LSU’s second possession was an early momentum-changing play.
Tebow’s induction speech went about like everyone expected.
He thanked Jesus, his parents, his former teammates and then Gator nation.
“I was born a Gator. I played as a Gator. I will die as a Gator,” Tebow said passionately at the end of the first quarter, drawing a rousing ovation.
Tebow was back on the field at halftime, recognized as part of the 2008 national championship team. As players gathered for a group photo, they begged Tebow to get front and center. He politely declined several times.
On the day Tebow received Florida’s highest football honor, the noted philanthropist gave back.
Tebow spent part of Saturday with former Florida student Mariel White, who has a rare blood disorder that contributed to four strokes and partial paralysis. White was invited to meet Tebow, her sports hero, on the SEC Nation set on campus.
She was on the field before the game and in attendance when Tebow was inducted into the ring of honor.
White was a sophomore last year when she became ill and had to withdraw from school. She was diagnosed with Hypereosinophilia, leading to other health issues.
LSU surely will drop, probably out of the top 10 considering early-season wins against Miami and Auburn don’t look nearly as good now. Florida will move into the top 20.
LSU: Continues the toughest part of its schedule against No. 2 Georgia next Saturday.
Florida: Plays next Saturday at Vanderbilt, which has lost 26 of the last 27 in the series.
Source: The Associated Press