Sunshine Showdown win embodies UF's signature

Florida's road to an 11-1 record wasn't paved with flawless finesse. The tar was laid with plenty of bumps bursting with heart-wrenching first halves. It was painted with plentiful yellow flags. But this year's Gators reigned victorious due to their knack of finding ways to reign supreme when the clock dwindled to zero in the fourth quarter.

The orange and blue's 37-26 Sunshine Showdown win embodied just that and served as an arguably poetic way to close the door on its regular season.

It has rung true since September that the Gators are most effective on the board come crunch time. Of UF's total 321 points scored this season, the largest chunk stems from fourth-quarter production at 115.

Saturday boasted the same tune. Florida chalked up 24 points in the fourth quarter. It was UF's track record in the second chunk of games' past that pushed confidence through to Tallahassee. Defensive lineman Omar Hunter recalled what the team repeated to themselves on the field. ‘The second half's our half."

"We have to finish the game that fourth quarter." "That's the most important quarter — we have to finish."

The Gators entered the crucial quarter sitting at a 13-20 deficit. But it came down to what offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison dubbed as a "performance of will." UF struck back with Caleb Sturgis' 32-yard field goal peppered in with his three kicks in tow with touchdowns from Mike Gillislee, Quinton Dunbar and Matt Jones. UF's strong second-half finish was something Harrison pinned as "our signature." The redshirt junior's will had been burning since last year's 7-21 loss to the Seminoles and he carried it with him into Doak S. Campbell Stadium this weekend.

"The events that happened last year — especially against this team, our rivals — I personally couldn't ever let that go," he said. "I personally had a chip on my shoulder and I brought that to this game."

Now, with the regular season under wraps, a bowl game is the only competition remaining. Florida's ability to walk away with wins in the hostile environments of away turf this season — especially in Gator-hating Tallahassee — shows just how much of a road warrior team the men are this season.

The bowl game stage is expected to be no different.

"When you go on the road, it's your team, your coaches — you're by yourself," Hunter said. "You feel like your back's against the wall and everyone's against you. It's a warrior mentality — we come out and we embrace that."

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