Florida quarterback Austin Appleby took the snap out of his own end zone inside Tiger Stadium, took four steps back and looked to his right before firing a pass down the sideline to freshman Tyrie Cleveland.
The receiver hauled in the catch about 30 yards from the line of scrimmage, shook off defensive back Donte Jackson and was off to the races.
One play, 98 yards, touchdown.
The play gave the Gators a 10-7 lead in the third quarter and put a raucous Death Valley crowd of 102,043 into a deathly silence.
The No. 21 Gators went on to defeat the 16th-ranked Tigers 16-10 to clinch the SEC East for the second-straight year and give second-year UF coach Jim McElwain the first statement road victory of his tenure at Florida.
Florida shut the door with an emphatic goal-line stand where UF’s Marcell Harris stopped running back Derrius Guice at the 1-yard line.
Emotions for the game, which was pushed back from its original Oct. 8 meeting date due to the potential threat to hit Gainesville from Hurricane Matthew, were magnified after a pre-game scuffle that saw the bulk of both teams clash on the field and during which LSU running back Leonard Fournette pushed UF assistant coach Torrian Gray.
As the teams were separated, one UF player looked around to his teammates and told them to save their energy for the game.
After going down 7-0 early, the energy came out in spurts.
Eddy Pineiro’s 36-yard field goal in the second quarter put UF (8-2, 6-2 SEC) on the board after a solid first drive stalled at midfield. Caleb Brantley’s forced fumble in the redzone about six minutes later gave them life.
Then, after just 3 total yards and three straight three-and-outs to close out the first half, Cleveland’s catch-and-run touchdown served as a catalyst down the stretch for UF, which won on a 22-yard field goal from Pineiro with 4:37 left to play and then added onto its lead with a 34-yard field goal after Florida recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
Running back Jordan Scarlett fueled a smashmouth running attack, gaining 108 yards on 22 carries.
LSU (6-4, 4-3 SEC) countered Florida’s energy throughout the day with long-winded, methodical drives that ate up time and had the potential to wear down the Gators’ defense.
After the Gators’ opening drive fell flat, LSU orchestrated a 12-play drive that lasted just over six minutes that ended with a Derrius Guice 1-yard touchdown run. Guice, who earned the start Saturday, recorded 50 of the Tigers’ 80 yards on that first drive.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling used a mixture of play-action passes and wide receiver reverses to keep the defense off balance.
But Florida executed in the redzone. After the opening touchdown, LSU managed just three points on its other four trips inside Florida’s 20-yard line and came away with nothing on the final drive.