Brantley’s mistakes help FSU beat Florida 21-7
Florida quarterback John Brantley finished the worst game of his
career in the locker room.
Brantley threw three interceptions, two of which led to Florida
State touchdowns, and was later knocked out of the game with an
apparent concussion. His mistakes and his injury keyed Florida
State’s 21-7 victory Saturday night, the Seminoles’ first win in
Gainesville since 2003.
”I hurt for him,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said. ”Whenever
you see someone struggle to finish or not to finish the game,
especially if they’re a senior and it’s their last game, it’s
Florida outgained Florida State 184-95. But the scoreboard is
all that matters in a series that used to be one of the most
respected in college football.
Now, though, the rivalry has devolved into a battle for bragging
rights and talk about a mythical state championship. The latest
matchup was the first time since 1988 that neither team was
And both teams looked the part.
What may have seemed like great defense was really just pathetic
offense. There were poor passes, blown blocking assignments and
strange play calls.
The oddest play of the night came on a fourth-and-inches play in
the second quarter. With Brantley struggling, the Gators (6-6)
lined up tight end Trey Burton at quarterback and ran him into
Florida State’s vaunted front. Burton was stuffed, then tried to
reverse field and make something happen. He ended up losing 14
”It is what it is. What can you say?” Florida linebacker Jon
Bostic said. ”We have to work on everything. … Obviously, the
outcome shows it. We have to get better. That’s the main
The Seminoles (8-4) were inept most of the night, but they took
advantage of Brantley’s first-half mistakes and later knocked him
out for good. It was the difference in an offensively ugly game
that had as many punts (18) as first downs.
”Our defense played unbelievable,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher
said. ”That was one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen in my
The `Noles sealed their second consecutive win in the series
when Terrance Parks intercepted Jacoby Brissett’s pass in the
fourth quarter and returned it 29 yards for a score, which sent
many of the 90,798 on hand scrambling for the exits.
The Gators avoided their first shutout since 1988 when Brissett
found Quinton Dunbar for a 6-yard score with 4:16 remaining.
”It’s very frustrating,” Florida defensive tackle Omar Hunter
said. ”We feel like we could have won that game. Not to say they
didn’t do anything to beat us, but we felt like we made a lot of
mistakes ourselves and beat ourselves.”
Muschamp called his team soft after the game.
”It falls on one guy’s shoulders and that’s mine,” Muschamp
said. ”It’s going to get corrected and we’re going to be fine.
We’ve got a good, young, solid football team. I know everybody’s
frustrated. I get that, I really do. I’m frustrated, too, more than
you guys are, more than anybody sitting in that stadium. …
”I know patience is a bad, bad word. I’m not asking for it. I
also think you’ve got to be realistic. When you have an education,
you have to be realistic some days.”
Realistically, Florida’s shot ended with Brantley’s injury.
He was sandwiched between two defenders as he released a pass
late in the second quarter and sustained an apparent concussion. He
stayed on the ground, slipped off his helmet and eventually walked
off the field with help from trainers. He was on the receiving end
of helmet-to-helmet contact, which also caused bleeding to his left
Brissett replaced Brantley and did little to rally the Gators
from a 14-point deficit.
Brantley completed 9 of 15 passes for 104 yards, with three
interceptions. Brissett was 4 of 13 for 27 yards.
EJ Manuel wasn’t much better for Florida State. He was 6 of 13
for 65 yards and was sacked four times on a mostly miserable night
in which the Seminoles managed seven first downs.
”We thought we might have to throw a shutout to get a win,”
FSU defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. ”We were disappointed
they got the one score on us. Our offense just wasn’t moving the
ball tonight, so we had to step it up big on defense. This was, by
far, our best defensive effort of the year.”