Swamped at The Swamp

The same issues that have plagued the Florida Gators through the first four games of the season, plagued them against an Auburn team struggling to save their season. There would be no revenge on behalf of the Gators as a susceptible defense and untimely penalties led to an upset at the hands of the Tigers.

Auburn (3-2, 1-1 SEC) place kicker Wes Byrum nailed a 43-yard field goal with no time remaining to hold off the charging Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) 20-17 in front of 90,685 at The Swamp on Saturday night. Florida had come back after trailing 17-3 midway through the third quarter to tie the score at 17 apiece. They even had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but to no avail as Auburn ended an 18-game home winning streak by the Gators and Urban Meyer's first home loss in his two-plus seasons.

Auburn took advantage of the Gators' young defense in a hurry, putting together an 86-yard drive that lasted more than seven and a half minutes, and the drive should have never happened. Auburn was poised for a three-and-out, but Jamar Hornsby ran into the punter giving the Tigers a first down. Auburn finished off the 14-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Kodi Burns.

The Gator offense sputtered in the first quarter, gaining just five yards of total offense. They ran just six offensive plays and didn't pick up a first down until the 14:08 mark of the second quarter. On that same drive, Florida reached the red zone, but had a 32-yard field goal attempt by Joey Ijjas blocked.

Auburn turned right around and put together another long drive, starting from their own 20. The Tigers continued to pick apart the Gator defense, mostly the young secondary, including a fourth down conversion inside the Florida 5-yard line. One play later, Ben Tate used a second effort to score from three yards out. With 6:21 left in the first half, the Gators faced their largest deficit of the season at 14-0.

Florida put together one last drive into Auburn territory before the end of the half, but a 15-yard personal foul penalty called on Maurkice Pouncey hurt the effort. UF faced a 4th-and-9 when Tim Tebow hit Louis Murphy just shy of the first down marker. Murphy made a second effort to get to the sticks, but the ball came loose and Auburn picked it up, sending Florida to the locker room with its first halftime deficit of the season, and its first scoreless first half at home since 1992.

The Gators needed a defense stop to start the second half and that's exactly what they got. An Auburn penalty on the opening kickoff set up the Tigers inside their own 10-yard line to start the third quarter. UF's defense forced Auburn to a three-and-out. The Gators answered with a drive into the red zone, setting up a 24-yard field goal from Ijjas, narrowing the margin to 14-3.

The Gators shut down the Tiger offense again by forcing another three-and-out, but Tebow threw an interception on the first play of the following drive on a miscommunication with Riley Cooper, giving the ball right back to Auburn. The Tigers finished off the 5-play, 48-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal to extend their lead to 17-3 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.

The Gator defense came up with a huge play towards the end of the quarter when Major Wright laid a big hit on Auburn running back Ben Tate and forced a fumble that was picked up by Joe Haden. The Gators turned the turnover into their first touchdown of the night after Tebow hit Cornelius Ingram from six yards out.

On their next possession, the Gators tied up the score after an impressive 89-yard drive. Tebow carried six times for 36 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run. But the play of the drive came when Tebow hit Percy Harvin on a 32-yard pass play where Harvin reached over a defender's helmet while falling out of bounds. The score was tied at 17 with 7:36 left to play.

The Gator defense stopped the Tigers again, giving the offense a chance to win the game, but a screen pass to Harvin on first down lost six yards and the Gators were never able to recover.

After punting back to Auburn with 3:38 left, the Tigers drove 34 yards to set up the game winning field goal.

It's the second straight season Florida has now lost three of the last four to the Tigers.


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