USF Botches Late FG, No. 18 Florida Gets 31-28 Win in Swamp

By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Trevor Etienne’s 3-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes remaining helped No. 18 Florida rally to beat South Florida 31-28 on Saturday night.

South Florida’s Spencer Shrader missed a 48-yard field goal with 23 seconds left that likely would have sent the game into overtime. Shrader had little chance at making the kick after Andrew Beardall dropped the snap while trying to get the ball down.

Nonetheless, the back-and-forth game will be remembered for Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s miscues and his team’s inability to stop the run.

Richardson was off all night for the second straight week. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 112 yards and two interceptions. The second one came in the end zone on a head-scratching play call by coach Billy Napier. Instead of potentially taking the lead, Florida trailed 28-24 and desperately needed help.

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Tre’Vez Johnson delivered. He intercepted Gerry Bohanon’s third-down pass on the ensuing possession and gave Florida the ball back with a short field.

Napier turned to Etienne, the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne. Trevor Etienne carried the ball four straight times, the last one into the end zone to put Florida (2-1) back in front.

The Gators still needed a stop to preserve the victory. They got help from the Bulls (1-2), who botched a shotgun snap, lost 14 yards and ended up with a longer field-goal try than expected on their final play.

Montrell Johnson ran for 103 yards and a touchdown to lead Florida. Etienne added 56 yards on the ground. Johnson was the story, though. He looked more like Treon Harris than Cam Newton as a passer, and his first interception led to a quick score for the Bulls.

Florida doesn’t have a touchdown pass in three games, a skid for a program accustomed to tossing the ball around with success.

South Florida was a 24 1/2-point underdog and for the 20th time in 24 games under third-year coach Jeff Scott.

Brian Battie led the Bulls with 150 yards rushing and a touchdown. Bohanon chipped in 102 yards and a score on the ground. But his two interceptions were costly for a team than finished with 286 yards rushing.

South Florida: The Bulls fell to 0-3 against Florida, but this one was considerably closer than the previous two. It could be a sign USF is closing the gap on the Gators, who remain the only Sunshine State team that hasn’t lost to South Florida.

Florida: The Gators failed to score in the third quarter for the third time in as many games this season, an eye-opening trend in Napier’s first season. Florida has been outscored 24-0 by Utah, Kentucky and South Florida in the frame.

Florida played without standout linebacker Ventrell Miller and right tackle Michael Tarquin. Miller was wearing a walking boot on his right foot. Tarquin was wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Both were ruled out Wednesday and are expected to return soon.

South Florida: Plays at Louisville next Saturday, the Bulls’ first trip there since 2012.

Florida: Plays at Tennessee next Saturday, the Gators’ first road trip of the season.

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