Gators fall short against LSU 24-21

<img src= align=right>LSU quarterback Marcus Randall completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Joseph Addai with 27 seconds remaining to lift the Tigers to a 24-21 victory over Florida in front of a sold-out crowd of 90,377 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field. The Tigers improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC, while the Gators fell to 3-2 and 2-2 in league play.

After going three-and-out on its first drive, Florida capitalized off a miscue by LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell at the Tigers' 18-yard-line. Making his first career interception on the first play of LSU's second drive, sophomore defensive back Demetrice Webb returned the ball 13 yards to the five-yard line. Facing second-and-goal after an incomplete pass to senior O.J. Small, sophomore quarterback Chris Leak pitched the ball to junior Ciatrick Fason, who broke through the Tigers' defense to give the Gators a 7-0 advantage with 10:18 remaining in the first quarter.

Facing a fourth-and-nine at the LSU 40, Gator sophomore Eric Wilbur booted a 39-yard punt that sophomore Chad Jackson was able to stop at the one, before tumbling into the end zone himself. With the Tigers facing a third-and-nine at their own two, UF junior Jarvis Herring picked off Russell's pass and brought it seven yards to the LSU three. Seconds later, Leak connected with freshman Tate Casey on the first play of a seven-second scoring drive, the team's shortest drive of the season. Casey's three-yard reception was his first career reception, as well as the first touchdown catch by a rookie tight end since Chris Faulkner found the end zone against the University of Miami (Fla.) on Dec. 1, 1979.

Trailing 14-0, LSU cut the deficit in half with 12:30 remaining in the second quarter, as sophomore Alley Brousard scored from one yard out. The Tigers marched 80 yards down the field on 14 plays.

Florida's third touchdown of the night came with just 1:39 remaining in the half, as Leak and the offense capped off a 63-yard drive with an 18-yard pass to a wide-open Small. The touchdown reception was the third of the 2004 campaign for Small. LSU quickly answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Randall to freshman wide receiver Early Doucet with 12 seconds left until the break.

The Tigers pulled to within 21-17 on a 47-yard field goal by sophomore Chris Jackson with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter. LSU began its final possession at the 50-yard line with 2:06 showing on the clock and covered the distance for the game-winning score in six plays.

Leak finished the game 15-of-33 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, while Fason gained 92 yards on 21 carries and had one touchdown. Wilbur had eight punts for average of 42-yards per kick, including four inside of LSU's 20-yard line. Coming off the bench, Randall wound up 18-of-27 for 198 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Starting quarterback Russell was 6-of-10 for 56 yards and two interceptions before leaving the field with a high ankle sprain late in the first quarter.

The Gators will resume action next weekend against Middle Tennessee State in a game that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Frances. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and can be seen live on pay-per-view.

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