Gators win in Tallahassee 20-13

Junior safety Jarvis Herring and the Gator defense shut down an attempted late game rally by Florida State giving Florida a 20-13 win, its first since1986 in Doak Campbell Stadium. Herring, who intercepted a Chris Rix pass with only 14 seconds remaining at the Florida eight-yard line, sealed the Gators win and ended the Seminoles hopes of securing a birth into a Bowl Championship Series postseason game.

The Gators opened the scoring with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter, as sophomore quarterback Chris Leak connected with Chad Jackson on a 13-yard scoring strike, to give Florida a 7-0 lead. The touchdown pass by Leak capped a 97-yard drive and gave him 20 straight games with at least one touchdown pass.

In the second quarter, senior kicker Matt Leach connected on the first of his two field goals, as he nailed a 38-yard field goal with 9:01 remaining in the first half, to extend the Gator lead over FSU to 10-0.

With only 17 seconds remaining in the first half, Florida State got on the board with a 20-yard field goal by Gary Cismesia, cutting the Florida lead to 10-3 at the close of the first half.

In the second half, the Gators struck first, with Leach booting his second field goal of the game with 11:51 to go in the game. Leach's field goal from 21 yards out, gave Florida a 10-point lead.

On its next possession, Florida State answered the Gators field goal by driving 80 yards in 3:07 to score its only touchdown of the game. Senior quarterback Chris Rix, who came off the bench, hit Chauncey Stovall on a broken play for a 27-yard scoring strike, to cut the Florida lead to 13-10, with 8:30 to go in the game.

Leading by only three, the Gators rallied and put together a nine play 80-yard drive to cap Florida's scoring, with junior running back Ciatrick Fason scampering for eight of his 103 yards to give the Gators a 10-point lead with 4:59 remaining in the contest. The touchdown run was Fason's 10th rushing touchdown of the season and only the fourth rushing touchdown the Florida State defense has surrendered this season.

With 3:48 to go in the game, Florida State cut into the Gators lead, as Xavier Beitia booted a 52-yard field goal, bringing the score to 20-13.

After a booming punt by Gator sophomore Eric Wilbur, the Seminoles started their final drive at their own 45-yard line. Rix would lead Florida State down to the Gators 18-yard line, as he completed two passes to Craphonso Thorpe for 32 yards and a five-yard pass to Lorenzo Booker. Then, facing fourth and 10 from the Florida 18-yard line, the Gators blitzed Rix and he fired the Seminoles second interception of the game to Herring, sealing the win for the Gators.

For the game, Leak was 19-of-39 for 231 yards and a touchdown pass, while Fason recorded his sixth 100-yard game of the season, dashing for 103 yards on 24 carries to become the first running back this season to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark against the vaunted Seminoles defense.

The Gators finish the 2004 regular season with a mark of 7-4 overall including a 4-4 record in Southeastern Conference games. The Gators, who became bowl eligible with their win versus South Carolina, now await word on the location of its 14th consecutive postseason bowl bid.

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