GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Jarvis Moss jumped as high as he could,
extending his arms toward the sky.
The Florida defensive end blocked a 48-yard field goal as time
expired to give the sixth-ranked Gators a 17-16 victory over South
Carolina on Saturday, keeping their national title hopes intact and
sending Steve Spurrier home a loser in his return to the Swamp.
With Saturday's 17-16 loss to No. 6 Florida, South Carolina dropped to 5-5 on the season, including a 3-5 mark in the SEC. But oh, what might have been. Steve Spurrier's squad has played five games this season against ranked opponents, losing every one. Four of those five games were decided by seven points or less. But the loss to the Gators, a one-point affair in which the Gamecocks missed an extra point and had two field goals blocked, probably hurts the most.
No. 12 Georgia
No. 2 Auburn
No. 8 Tennessee
No. 12 Arkansas
No. 6 Florida
Moss also blocked an extra point that was equally important.
"It felt good not to let the guys down," Moss said. "I think
we've got something special going on."
The Gators (9-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) were fourth in the
latest Bowl Championship Series rankings, right behind Louisville
and just in front of Texas. But with the Cardinals losing at
Rutgers on Thursday night and with No. 1 Ohio State playing No. 2
Michigan next Saturday, the Gators believe they have as good a
chance as anybody of getting to the national championship game as a
Their former coach agreed.
"This could be the year of the Gators," Spurrier said.
Spurrier stood near the 31-yard line with his legs crossed as
Ryan Succop lined up for the game-winner. Succop's kick cleared the
line of scrimmage but didn't get over the outstretched arms of the
It was the third blocked kick of the game for Florida.
Moss batted down Succop's extra point attempt earlier in the
fourth quarter, leaving the Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5) with a 16-10
advantage following Mike Davis' second touchdown run.
Defensive tackle Ray McDonald also blocked a 47-yard field goal
attempt in the first half.
"You've got to find a way to win football games," Florida
defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "We found a way."
After Davis' score, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow teamed up to put
the Gators ahead. Tebow picked up 6 yards on fourth-and-one in
Florida territory, Leak ran for 17 a few plays later and then added
an 8-yard scramble on third down.
Tebow scored on the next play from 12 yards out. Florida then
made the extra point, which turned out to be the difference in the
"It came down to they can kick extra points and we didn't,"
Leak completed 19 of 27 passes for 254 yards, including a
21-touchdown pass to Dallas Baker. He also threw an interception
and was sacked twice. Still, coach Urban Meyer called it his best
game in two seasons.
The teams combined for 811 yards, 51 first downs and just one
Blake Mitchell, making his first start in two months, threw for
275 yards for South Carolina. Davis had 94 yards rushing, and Cory
Boyd added 40 on the ground.
Mitchell drove the Gamecocks to the Florida 34 on the final
drive, but a false start moved them back 5 yards. On third-and-17,
he connected with Freddie Brown III for 8 yards to get them back
into field goal territory.
Then Moss stepped up.
"He's a freak," Meyer said.
"That kid could block a kick on anyone," Spurrier said. "I
don't like relying on field goals."
Spurrier coached 12 years in Gainesville and led Florida -- his
alma mater -- to national prominence.
He went 68-5 at Florida Field, creating one of the best
home-field advantages in college football, and even nicknamed the
stadium the Swamp.
His 1966 Heisman Trophy is displayed outside the locker room. So
are photos of his six Southeastern Conference championship teams
and the 1996 national title trophy. His name and No. 11 jersey are
painted inside the stadium. And he has one of four spots in the
program's Ring of Honor, commemorated by a large placard featuring
his name and number.
His lingering shadow was a big topic of conversation leading up
to the game, and Meyer said beating the Florida legend was special.
"It means a lot, probably more than I'll ever give into,"
Spurrier repeatedly downplayed his return, saying he would be
too immersed in calling plays to get emotional.
"I was just trying to win a ball game," he said afterward. "I
was just trying to get South Carolina its first win in the Swamp.
We couldn't get it done today. I will not sit here and complain."
Spurrier was cheered by some, but booed by most as he entered
the stadium along with his players.
But he quickly showed why so many fans wanted him to return to
Florida after an unsuccessful stint in the NFL, calling plays that
South Carolina used to drive down the field for a 7-0 lead.
The Gamecocks also went ahead 10-7 and 16-10, but the blocked
extra point proved costly. So did the blocked field goals.
"It is frustrating," Succop said. "Special teams had a chance
to help the team tonight, but we couldn't get it done. It's very