University of Florida

Trick play a special memory for Florida Gators’ Michael McNeely

Florida's Michael McNeely runs for a touchdown past Georgia safety Quincy Mauger (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.
Florida's Michael McNeely runs for a touchdown past Georgia safety Quincy Mauger (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. AP

On the final day of Florida’s fall training camp, senior walk-on receiver Michael McNeely earned a scholarship. Later that evening, he was bagging groceries at Publix.

On Saturday, McNeely was the special teams star that sparked UF’s stunning win over No.9 Georgia, scoring a 21-yard touchdown on a fake field goal as the trick holder.

“I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life,” he said. “My grandkids will hear about this.”

In a fearless, aggressive move, beleaguered coach Will Muschamp dialed up the trick play trailing by a touchdown on a fourth-and-9 early in the second quarter.

The Gators instantly grabbed the game’s momentum, and then the floodgates opened.

“It was a great call,” McNeely said. “It was drawn up perfectly. The guys blocked so well, Tevin [Westbrook] and Clay [Burton] kicked out. It was perfect. All I had to do was run. It worked just like it did in practice, so I knew where to hit it.”

McNeely, who works at the supermarket every Sunday, has quietly been a special teams ace for Florida since 2012, but Muschamp praised the senior’s work ethic and commitment on and off the field.

“He’s a very good athlete. He’s one of our best special-teams players,” Muschamp said. “But I use him as an example for some of our guys all the time. They complain about food and complain about this. I tell them,’ Go do what he does. He’s unbelievable.”

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore safety Keanu Neal (right leg) was injured on Nick Chubb’s bulldozing 39-yard touchdown run. The defensive back starter did not return to the game and was seen on the sidelines with crutches.

“They told me the two words ‘high ankle,’ which is never good,” Muschamp said. “I’ll probably know more Monday or Tuesday. It looked like a pretty good sprain to me. We’ll put him in a boot, but that could also be precautionary.”

Senior offensive guard Treon Brown (right leg) went down on Florida’s second offensive snap, but the Georgia native later returned to action.

Senior kicker Frankie Velez left the game with an undisclosed injury following his 21-yard field goal in the third quarter.

THIS AND THAT

Florida avoided losing four in a row to Georgia for the first time since 1979-83. … Muschamp is now 1-7 in the series — 0-4 as player and 1-3 as a coach. … Florida was penalized just four times for 31 yards. … The two teams wore home jerseys for the first time since 1970. … Florida alum James Bates (1993-96) was inducted into Jacksonville’s Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame in a ceremony this weekend. The Gators’ star linebacker never lost to the Bulldogs in four seasons.

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