Florida takes down No. 7 Utah in The Swamp in upset thriller

Florida State kicked off the Billy Napier era with an exciting upset of a top-10 team in the Everglades, beating No. 7 Utah 29-26. Anthony Richardson was the X-factor that allowed the Gators to win.

Richardson was Florida’s top rusher (11 rushes, 104 yards, 3 touchdowns), including a 45-yard TD in the second quarter. Richardson achieved it with dazzling fakes and spins as the Gators led 22-19 with two points. As the game went on, Richardson converted a fourth behind with less than 2 minutes left. With 1 minute and 25 seconds left, Richardson ran into the lead.

There were few turnovers Saturday night, but senior linebacker Amari Burney beat Utah QB Cam Rising in the end zone for a thrilling 29-26 victory with 17 seconds left. .

Rising was the guest quarterback in the swamp. He went 22 for 32 for 217 yards and touchdowns. As a runner, he sprinted for 90 yards seven times.

Florida’s defense has shown its new resilience in the third quarter with a goal-line brace. Utah missed the 4th goal at the 1-yard line. The Gators flipped the field but failed to gain points from the turnover.

Utah rarely gets flagged and rarely makes mistakes of its own making. Utes showed no signs of being worn by the Florida weather or rattled by the noise of the swamps.

It’s a ground game battle for most of the night. Utah couldn’t stop at times, racking up 39 possessions for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns. Florida State will be a pre-emptive team under Napier. Richardson rushed 39 times for 282 yards and all four touchdowns with a three-man running back committee.

Florida State’s opener went 60 yards in six games before second-line RB Montrell Johnson threw the ball away.

Although UF got the opener, Johnson’s turnover established four 18-yard drives to give Utah an early 7-0 lead.

Florida State fumbled again when freshman RB Trevor Etienne fumbled but recovered. Most importantly, Richardson had no turnovers as a passer, going 17-of-24 for 168 yards.

Utah won the third quarter by running the football. Utes won the half-time adjustment battle and established the lead in the second half. Luckily for the Gators, they have Richardson to keep the offense and score.

The Utes kept it on the ground mostly for a nine-game, 89-yard drive. Micah Bernard’s 7-yard TD made it 19-14, a score that remained after a failed 2-point attempt.

Florida fans chant Tom Petty’s “I won’t hold back” before the final quarter. It appeared to revive the Gators as the UF offense came back to life with an eight-game, 75-yard touchdown, the first score in a thrilling final quarter.

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