Danny Etling threw a short touchdown pass in the second half and LSU rebounded from a stunning home loss with a 17-16 victory at No. 21 Florida on Saturday.
The Tigers (4-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) moved the ball well early with jet sweeps and then pounded it between the tackles late, doing just enough to upend the Gators (3-2, 3-1).
The difference was Florida’s usually stout kicking game. Eddy Pineiro missed the first extra point of his career in the third quarter and never got a chance to atone for it. He had made 45 in a row before that.
LSU looked nothing like it did the previous week against Troy, a 24-21 loss that was the program’s first at home against a non-conference opponent since 2000. The Tigers opened up a 14-point lead early in the third on Etling’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Tory Carter.
Florida answered, getting the first of consecutive TD runs by Lamical Perine. Pineiro yanked the extra point left after the second one.
The Gators fell to 13-2 at home under coach Jim McElwain and 10-1 when rushing for more than 150 yards. They also dropped to 9-2 in one-possession games under McElwain.
The Tigers, meanwhile, responded better than most expected after a tumultuous week that included two players-only meetings and another involving the athletic director, the head coach and both coordinators.
LSU: The Tigers clearly figured out some things offensively, with coordinator Matt Canada drawing up plenty of plays that worked against Florida. The most effective were the jet sweeps early. Russell Gage capped an early drive with a 30-yard TD run around the left end that the Gators pointing fingers and shaking heads.
Florida: The Gators don’t trust quarterback Feleipe Franks. Running backs Malik Davis and Perine did most of the heavy lifting, but when Florida needed Franks to step up, he didn’t. Franks completed 10 of 16 passes for 108 yards and was sacked five times.
Florida set an NCAA record by scoring in its 366th consecutive game. The Gators got on the scoreboard with Pineiro’s 25-yard field goal in the second quarter. That broke the previous mark set by Michigan (1984-2014) and tied by the Gators last week. Michigan’s streak ended with a 31-0 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 6, 2014.
Florida hasn’t been shut out since a 16-0 home loss to Auburn on Oct. 29, 1988.
The Gators paid tribute to local legend Tom Petty by playing “I Won’t Back Down” at the end of the third quarter. The crowd of 90,000-plus sang along as the hit was played over the sound system.
Petty died Monday at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles a day after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California. He was 66.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty once worked as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida as he tried to make it in the music industry.
LSU: Hosts Auburn next Saturday. LSU has won seven of the last 10 in the series.
Florida: Wraps up a three-game homestretch against Texas A&M. The Gators won the only meeting (2012) since Texas A&M joined the conference.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.