Two years ago, when LSU fans tore down the goal posts to celebrate the upset of then-No. 1 Florida, Robert Gillespie was on the LSU sideline cheering for the Tigers, the team he expected to play for.
Things never quite worked out as Gillespie planned, and he scored two touchdowns Saturday for the Gators, including one with 45 seconds left in the game that ensured a 31-10 victory for No. 8 Florida.
"Some of the guys in the line were questioning why we didn't down the ball," Gillespie said. "(Quarterback) Doug Johnson came in, fired guys up and said we were going to put it in."
A visit to Florida, where winning was a reality, convinced Gillespie he'd rather play there than try to help the Tigers build a winning record.
A pounding rain fell for much of the second quarter and halftime, turning the Tiger Stadium field into a flooded, muddy swamp in the second half. That prevented a Florida blowout but did not completely stop Steve Spurrier's high-powered offense.
Gillespie gained 108 yards on 21 carries in the slop, including 66 in the second half.
After last week's upset loss to Alabama, Florida (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), which has not lost back-to-back games since 1992 and only twice since 1990, could not afford another loss and keep its SEC championship hopes alive.
LSU (2-3, 0-3) was so inept in the first half picking up just 32 yards on 35 plays while allowing the Gators to gain 251 yards on 37 plays that even a solid second-half effort could not save them.
"We got frustrated in the first half," LSU guard Trey Langley said. "It's a big frustration that we can't run the ball. We were not communicating well. We have some young guys out there and confusion sets in."
LSU rushed for minus 7 yards on 37 carries.
Florida's offense, which averaged more than 500 yards a game in the first four games, wa slowed in the second half as much by the dismal conditions as the Tigers. Florida gained just 345 yards, but LSU had only 165.
"We're not happy with way we played, this could be one of the most undisciplined team we've had in my 10 years at Florida," Spurrier said. "Obviously, we were in good shape and almost blew the game. We kept messing around, made stupid penalties and allowed LSU back into game."
It took only 20 seconds for Florida to erase any lingering memories of their last visit to Tiger Stadium when LSU knocked them from their No. 1 ranking and snapped a 25-game SEC winning streak.
Two plays into the game the Gators were ahead 7-0 as Johnson hit Darrell Jackson for a 73-yard gain and Gillespie scampered untouched another 7 yards to score. By the end of the first quarter Florida was up 10-0.
LSU scored on a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter, but Florida answered immediately as Bo Carroll took the ensuing kickoff four yards deep in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown. A 27-yard touchdown pass to Alex Willis made it 24-3 Florida at the half.
Florida scored on four of its eight first half possessions.
Johnson completed 17 of 29 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once and sacked twice.
"We wanted to try and make something big happen on the first play and they came out and did exactly what we thought they would do," Johnson said. "That's huge when you come into an other person's stadium and get off to a good start."
LSU retained a bit of respectability on Josh Booty's 10-yard touchdown pas to Robert Royal that cut the Gators' lead to 24-10 in the third quarter.
Booty, who made his second start since forsaking major league baseball for LSU, completed 18 of 42 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted three times and sacked twice.
On LSU's final possession, Booty had two incompletions, fumbled the snap, and tossed an interception that gave Florida the ball on the Tigers' 31. Five plays later, Gillespie iced the victory with a 20-yard touchdown run, putting Florida up 31-10 with 45 seconds left.
Taking the field in their traditional white jerseys was the only fight LSU came close to winning. Spurrier had tried to block the Tigers from donning white, but was overruled by conference regulations.
The victory was Spurrier's 98th at Florida, tying him with Barry Switzer for the most victories in his first 10 years at a major college this century.
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