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

hard.”

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

ranked.

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

yards.

”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

thing.”

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

23 years.”

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

cheek.

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.”