Jordan Cronkrite entered the game for the first time on a key third-and-eight from the South Carolina 12 late in the first quarter. After being used in pass protection on that play to help quarterback Treon Harris hit Brandon Powell for nine yards, Cronkrite punched it into the end zone for the first score of the game from three yards out.
Florida’s following drive looked destined to stall in South Carolina territory when facing a third-and-11 from the 41. Harris rolled out and saw Cronkrite running down the sideline. The sophomore underthrew the pass and should have been intercepted by cornerback Chris Lammons, but Cronkrite ripped the ball out of his hands and sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone.
“Here’s the one thing I liked -- let’s face it, Treon got away with one down there on that scramble out of empty,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “(Cronkrite) just went back and said ‘I want the ball.’ For a freshman to step up and make a play like that, that was really good. I mean, he just went and took it away from him. That’s good stuff.”
The freshman running back ended the day with six rushes for 24 yards and one touchdown while having two catches for 49 yards and one touchdowns. Cronkrite became the first Florida freshman to record a receiving and rushing touchdown in the same game since DeShawn Wynn against Florida A&M in 2003.
SHERIT’S UNIQUE GAME
After Jordan Sherit warmed up with the Florida team, he jogged back to the team locker room, took off his shoulder pads and turned on the television. The redshirt sophomore was suspended for the first half of the game for a targeting penalty late in last week’s game against Vanderbilt.
It put Sherit in a strange situation, traveling to a road game with his teammates but forced to watch on a television while tucked in a room 50-100 feet from the field.
“It was nuts,” Sherit said. “I was anxious just watching the game, pacing back and forth, cheering on my guys. I was just pacing in the locker room, man.”
When halftime came and the suspension was over, Sherit didn’t waste time getting involved. He opened the half by throwing the offensive lineman off him and tackling running back Brandon Wilds two yards past the line of scrimmage. On the third play of the next drive, Sherit split a sack with Jonathan Bullard. On South Carolina’s third drive of the second half, Sherit recorded a sack by himself.
He finished the game tied for third on the team with three tackles despite being on the field for half the time others were.
“I was joking with Coach Rumph that maybe that should be a thing every week, just during the first half sit me down,” Sherit said. “I definitely had a lot of energy. I wasn’t tired. It was good to come out there and help the team.”
DEFENSIVE BACKS CREATE TURNOVERS
Florida sophomore cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson both recorded interceptions, the only two turnovers the Gators forced on Saturday. Tabor jumped a Perry Orth pass deep in South Carolina territory and set the Gators up to score before halftime, but Treon Harris threw an interception that ended that chance.
After the Florida defense gave up touchdowns in back-to-back drives and let the Gamecocks back in the game, Wilson intercepted a pass in the final two minutes to erase any hope of a comeback.
"Our DBs are great,” Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley said. “They know which routes are coming before the play starts. They call it out. We have a lot of confidence in those guys. It's amazing. They're amazing."
Tabor scored touchdowns on his first two interceptions this season against East Carolina and Missouri. He didn’t get in the end zone on Saturday after Pharoh Cooper, the intended receiver, was right next to him after the cornerback caught the ball. If Cooper wasn’t there, Tabor likely would’ve recorded his third touchdown of the year.
Vernon Hargreaves III and Tabor have been competing all year to see who the best cornerback on the team is, and when Tabor was told that he’s now one interception behind Hargreaves this season, he didn’t hesitate with his comeback
“I’m going to catch him,” Tabor said with a grin.