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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Trio of fourth quarter field goals give Aggies 19-17 win over Florida

Photo by Courtesy of Cecilia Lemus, The Alligator

For the fourth time this season, Texas A&M found a way to win while trailing in the second half.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” blared from the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium speakers between the third and fourth quarters, and Florida was trying to knock down Texas A&M for good.
One play earlier, the Aggies appeared to have sacked Gator quarterback Felepie Franks inside the Florida 10, but the quarterback evaded a sack by Otaro Alaka and dashed down field for a 79-yard run, breaking seven tackles on the play.
“The [offensive line] did a good job blocking for me and on the back end, the receivers did a good job and the line did a good job of creating a hole for me and [it was] just a good run,” Franks said.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Florida took a 17-10 lead on a six-yard rushing touchdown off a jet sweep by Dre Massey.
From that point on though, it was all Aggies, particularly kicker Daniel LaCamera, who made four field goals on the night, including three in the fourth quarter.
With 58 seconds left in the game, LaCamera knocked home a game-winning 32-yard field goal to give A&M its first lead of the game at 19-17.
“We knew coming into this game it was going to be a big field goal game,” LaCamera said. “I try not think it’s bigger than any other kick, it feels great to do it.”
On the first play of the Gator’s ensuing drive, any chances of a Florida comeback were axed by Tyrel Dodson who tipped Franks pass over the middle and brought it down for an interception to seal the victory.
“That’s just a great play by him,” linebacker Otaro Alaka said. “He’s been making some great plays through the weeks, that’s just it’s something we expect now.”
In the end, it was the Aggies who didn’t back down.
“We knew we were going to win that football game,” offensive lineman Erik McCoy said.
After reaching the red zone in the previous two drives, A&M was stumped and held to 43- and 25-yard field goals by LaCamera, respectively.
“We didn’t complete the drives, but we got points,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “In a game like that, points are what matter.”
A pair of 40-plus yard receptions by Damion Ratley and Christian Kirk put A&M inside the Gator 25, setting up the two field goals. The two catches accounted for 82 of quarterback Kellen Mond’s 180 passing yards. Mond finished just 8-of-24 on the night.
“We knew that we were going to see a lot of man coverage, and at first we were seeing a lot of pressure up front, Kellen was seeing a lot of pressure,” Kirk said. “We weren’t getting enough separation as we needed to … It was good that we were able to get going and connect on some passes.”
Kirk set up the winning-drive with critical 43-yard punt return, which allowed A&M to start at the Florida 39-yard line.
“That was a time where we needed a big play,” Kirk said. “Great execution by the guys blocking in front and it’s just on me at that point to make a play and set us up to win.”
For Florida, a fourth quarter flounder allowed the Aggies to creep back and earn a comeback win. After the touchdown on the first play of the period, the Gators totaled just 21 yards in the final 14:54.
“We got to stay on the field and give ourselves an opportunity to be successful,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said. “They did a good job pressuring the quarterback. They didn’t disappoint. They did a good job harassing us, and we maybe got a little jumpy in there at times.”
The Aggies picked up the tempo on their first drive of the second half, tying the game at 10 at the 11:12 mark of the third quarter. Mond ran it in nine yards on a draw up the middle, plowing past a pair of defenders for the score.
Just before the half, the Gators pushed their lead to 10-3 on a 15-yard rushing touchdown by Lamical Perine. Two plays earlier, the Aggies had appeared to have stopped Florida on fourth-and-1, but a whistle mishap by the officials gave the Gators a second chance, converting on a short run.
A&M struggled mightily on offense in the first half, totaling just 80 yards, earning just two first downs and punted the ball six times on eight drives.
“Going into halftime, we knew we were beating ourselves with the little things,” Kirk said. “Not being able to execute, penalties and not doing the little things. We were able to go into halftime and have that confidence to know that we’re a second half team.”
Players and coaches alike agreed earning a pivotal road win felt huge for A&M, who now heads into a bye week.
“We focus on finishing games,” Alaka said. “I think that’s helped us as we’ve gone through each week.”

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