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Columbia, SC

No. 11 Florida holds off South Carolina 24-14

1847 days ago
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Jordan Cronkrite had two first-half touchdowns and Kelvin Taylor's long run in the fourth quarter helped No. 11 Florida hold off South Carolina 24-14 on Saturday.

The Gators (9-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) were up 17-0 heading to the fourth quarter, with the defense having allowed only 44 yards.

But South Carolina (3-7, 1-7) rallied with a throwback 17-yard touchdown from receiver Pharoh Cooper to quarterback Perry Orth, followed by Orth's 38-yard scoring throw to Cooper moments later that cut the lead to 17-14 with 4:49 remaining.

Florida was facing third-and-8 from midfield when Taylor broke free on a 53-yard run to the South Carolina 1. He finished the drive a play later with 2:01 left that closed the door on South Carolina.

Cronkrite scored on a 3-yard run and a 41-yard reception from quarterback Treon Harris.

The comeback ended for good when Quincy Wilson intercepted Orth with 1:20 to go.

Taylor finished with 101 yards on 19 carries. Harris threw for 256 yards and a touchdown.

The win keeps Florida in the College Football Playoff mix as a potential one-loss SEC champion. The Gators, 11th in the CFP ranking, clinched their spot in next month's title game with their victory over Vanderbilt last week.

Florida has a chance to earn some playoff points. It closes the season against rival Florida State in two weeks before facing the SEC West champ in Atlanta.

Florida's struggling offense -- the SEC East champs are 10th overall in the league in yards gained -- presented the Gamecocks a chance to spark up an attack that had improved in close defeats at Texas A&M and Tennessee the previous two weeks.

But it was the Gators who dominated things early on with a pair of methodical TD drives to go up 14-0 at the half.

Harris led a 15-play sequence where Florida converted four third downs and a fourth down on the way to Cronkrite's 3-yard touchdown run.

Florida was at it again the next time it got the ball with a 12-play, seven minute drive that ended with Cronkrite's 41-yard TD catch.

The Gators had another chance to score when Jalen Tabor, the other cornerback, stepped in front of Perry Orth's pass deep in South Carolina territory. This time, Harris was intercepted near the goal line by T.J. Gurley to end the threat.

Florida outgained South Carolina 200-53 and held the ball for nearly 10 more minutes than their opponent in that half.

The Gamecocks finished with 189 yards of offense, 145 of that coming in the final period. They lost their third straight and fell to 1/3 under interim coach Shawn Elliott, who took over last month after Steve Spurrier resigned.

Spurrier, the all-time coaching victories leader at both these schools, did not attend the contest, saying it was not his place.

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AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org