The Florida Gators are taking on the Oregon State Beavers in Las Vegas for the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl.
Entering the contest with a drastically different lineup, the Gators were tasked with slowing one of the PAC 12’s finest on the year while taking on a relatively intact Oregon State squad.
That gap in experienced talent is indicative of the two-possession lead the Beavers hold at the break.
The Gators received the opening kickoff with the chance to establish the offense with some confidence under the new leadership of Jack Miller III. However, the Beavers took the fight to Florida on the opening play by stopping a jet sweep from Ricky Pearsall behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of two.
As a result, a team that came into the contest expected to lean on its ground attack heavily was forced to utilize the arm of Miller to make up ground. An errant throw from Miller and a drop by wideout Caleb Douglas concluded the first drive after just three plays.
The Gators punted to the Beavers for their first drive.
Despite Florida’s slow start on offense, the defense held its ground against the Oregon State attack as edge rusher Princely Umanmielen derailed the drive with a sack on Ben Gulbranson to force a 3rd and 19. That allowed UF to force a three-and-out of its own.
That sparked temporary momentum as Florida was able to drive the field on the ensuing possession, but when the drive stalled on the fringe of field goal range, Gators kicker Adam Mihalek pushed the 52-yard attempt wide left.
The methodical attack that characterized Jonathan Smith’s squad during their 9-3 campaign emerged when the Beavers re-assumed control of the ball. Going 65 yards in eight plays, Oregon State drove the field to set up the potential to break the seal on the scoring with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Wideout Tyjon Lindsey accomplished that as he took a reverse eight yards for the score to take a 7-0 lead.
Florida failed to answer despite a promising drive, including a 15-yard pass from Miller to Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman and a 14-yard run from Montrell Johnson. It was the third drive that resulted in Florida stalling despite moving the ball inside the OSU 40-yard line.
The squads traded punts on back-to-back possessions.
Oregon State’s kicker Everett Hayes added a 27-yard field goal to the board with 4:32 remaining, putting the Gators down 10-0.
Former Gators edge rusher Andrew Chatfield made sure the shutout of Florida stuck for the remainder of the half as he earned a sack on his former team.
The Gators head into the locker room scoreless as a result. However, they were able to keep the deficit at 10 as the half expired.
After calling a timeout to attempt to ice the kicker, Billy Napier gave the go-ahead for an all-out field goal block package. Jordan Young came off the edge to block the Beavers’ 33-yard field goal attempt and maintain the score at 10-0. But, he was called for a personal foul after the play, which will be assessed at the beginning of the third quarter.
That play showcases the Gators’ self-inflicted wounds in the first 30 minutes.
The Beavers won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. They will get the ball to start the final half of the 2022 season for each unit with an opportunity for OSU to extend their lead.
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