By Joe Vozzelli
James Franklin had a chance to give Missouri the lead against Florida on Saturday, but the plaguing factor of the entire game ended a key Missouri drive.
With the game tied at 7 late in the third quarter, the Missouri offense had the ball at Florida 27-yard line. Franklin unleashed a pass that floated over wide receiver Bud Sasser’s head and into the waiting hands of Florida safety Matt Elam for an interception. Elam returned the ball 40 yards to the Florida 46-yard line.
Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel led the offense down the field. The Gator offense scored four plays later on a 45-yard Mike Gillislee touchdown. Gillislee caught a 5-yard screen pass from Driskel and ran 40 yards for the touchdown. Florida took a 14-7 lead entering the fourth quarter and never looked back in its 14-7 win over Missouri.
Franklin overthrew several passes throughout the game. The junior quarterback finished 24-for-51 for 236 yards and four interceptions in Missouri’s 14-7 loss to No. 7 Florida Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
Driskel finished the game 12-for-23 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s other score came on a 36-yard touchdown run from tight end Omarius Hines.
Missouri had the ball twice inside Florida territory in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Franklin’s mistakes, however, ended both drives. On one of those drives, Missouri drove the ball to the Florida 21-yard line. With 11 seconds left in regulation, Franklin overthrew a pass, which Florida safety Josh Evans intercepted in the end zone to seal the game.
True freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was Missouri’s lone bright spot offensively. He caught six passes for 73 yards and was a focal point of Missouri’s offense for much of the game.
Missouri’s only touchdown of the game came on a Kendial Lawrence 1-yard run in the second quarter. The senior tailback finished the game with only 34 yards on 18 carries for a modest 1.9-yard average.
The Missouri defense held Florida to only 14 points. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson built upon his season of dominant play on defense with six tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal; Florida was able to recover the fumble, though.
In the second quarter, Missouri linebacker Donovan Bonner forced a Gillislee fumble, which cornerback E.J. Gaines recovered. The fumble recovery gave Missouri 27 consecutive games with at least one takeaway.
Missouri (4-5, 1-5 SEC) will play Tennessee next Saturday, Nov. 10 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The Volunteers (4-5, 0-5 SEC) are coming off a narrow 55-48 win at home against Troy from the Sun Belt Conference. The game will air live on the SEC Network, kicking off at 11:21am.
Missouri will need to win at least two of its remaining three games to become bowl eligible. The Tigers have Tennessee, Syracuse and No. 16 Texas A&M left on the schedule. Missouri’s remaining home game is against Syracuse on Nov. 17.