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Moss ruins Spurrier's return to Florida

Nov 12, 2006 - 3:07 AM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Jarvis Moss spoiled Steve Spurrier's return to "The Swamp."

Moss blocked an extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter and then a 48-yard field-goal attempt by Ryan Succop on the final play of the game as sixth-ranked Florida held on for a thrilling 17-16 victory over South Carolina in a battle of Southeastern Conference rivals.

Florida (9-1, 7-1 SEC East) already had clinched the division title and a spot in the SEC title game last week, but a loss to South Carolina would have eliminated the Gators from the national championship picture.

Spurrier guided Florida to the 1996 national championship and was honored here in September when the 10-year anniversary of that team was celebrated.

Spurrier took over as the coach at South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 East) in 2005 and beat the Gators, 30-22, at Columbia last season.

Florida coach Urban Meyer appeared to be in danger of losing to Spurrier again when Succop lined up for the potential game-winning field goal with eight seconds left. But the 6-6 Green used his enormous wingspan and deflected the kick with his left hand to preserve the win for Florida.

"That was the biggest play I've ever made in my career," Moss said.

"Jarvis Moss is a freak," Meyer said. "In the huddle before the field-goal attempt, they (the players) told him they knew he could do it, and that gave him the confidence he needed."

South Carolina had taken a 16-10 lead when Mike Davis scored his second touchdown of the game - a 14-yard run with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter. But Moss blocked the extra point.

Meyer then used both of his quarterbacks - Chris Leak and freshman Tim Tebow - to direct an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Tebow kept it alive with a six-yard run on a 4th-and-1 play. Leak then hit Percy Harvin with a 19-yard pass on a crossing pattern and scrambled for runs of 17 and eight yards.

"We were able to stretch the field vertically and horizontally," said Leak, who completed 19-of-27 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown. "We've got some guys on this team who can make plays and we made them."

Tebow capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle with 3:03 left.

"I just had so much adrenaline," Tebow said. "The offensive line had the goal of getting in the end zone and we were not going to be denied. We went out there and got the job done."

Chris Hetland, who had missed a 30-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and made a 22-yarder in the fourth, converted the extra point to give Florida the lead.

But Spurrier's team was going to have the ball last and the "Ol' Ball Coach" called the right plays. After South Carolina took over at its 25, Blake Mitchell hit freshman Freddie Brown on a nine-yard slant, completed an 18-yard pass down the sideline to Davis and threw a four-yard screen pass to freshman Moe Brown.

Another 12-yard pass to Brown on a slant brought the Gamecocks to the Florida 32 with 40 seconds left.

Instead of playing it conservatively for a field goal, Spurrier called for a deep sideline pass and Mitchell connected with Sidney Rice on a 27-yard play. But it was negated when sophomore tackle Jamon Meredith was called for a false start.

"I don't like relying on field goals," Spurrier said of his decision to go for the long sideline pass to Rice. "Maybe if we didn't get the false start penalty, we could have put another ball in the end zone and we would not be talking about field goals."

Mitchell hit Brown with an eight-yard pass to the Florida 31 with eight seconds left to set the stage for Succop, who had kicked a 47-yard field goal nine seconds into the fourth quarter but also had a 47-yard attempt blocked by Ray McDonald in the third quarter.

Of course, Succop also had an extra-point attempt blocked by Moss, who came through once again when it counted most.

"It started up front with Stephen Harris and Ray McDonald being able to double-team a guy and knock him back," Moss said. "That gave me room to get up and use my jumping ability and block the kick."

"It's frustrating," Succop said. "If (Moss) jumped six inches any other way, it wouldn't have gotten blocked."

But it did and now Florida should rise in the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings. The Gators were fourth, behind Louisville, which lost at Rutgers on Thursday, and ahead of Texas.

"This could be the year of the Gators," Spurrier said of Florida's chances.

Spurrier's team needs to win one of its remaining two games to become bowl eligible.

The Gamecocks gained 410 yards against Florida. Mitchell was 24-of-33 for 275 yards and Davis rushed for 94 yards on 16 carries.

Davis scored on a four-yard run with 26 seconds left in the first quarter to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive.

South Carolina appeared to have increased its lead to 10-0 in the second quarter when Succop made a 55-yard field goal, but a delay of game penalty negated it. Spurrier reacted to the penalty by throwing his play-calling sheet to the ground.

"I didn't do a good job of getting set," Succop said. "I got it down, we kicked it through, but they called it back because we were a second too late."

Florida responded with a seven-play, 78-yard drive. Leak capped it with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Baker, who reached over cornerback Fred Bennett's back, grabbed the ball and stepped backward into the end zone with 1:25 left in the second quarter.

Succop kicked a 47-yard field goal nine seconds into the fourth quarter. Hetland tied it again with a 22-yard kick with 10:49 left in the game.

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