GAINESVILLE, Fla. – – Jaydon Hill was supposed to wear a brace on his right knee on Saturday. He’s been practicing with it for weeks. He found it waiting for him on the sidelines.
But he felt so good with the warmups so he decided to leave it at that. And he won’t touch it now.
Hill blocked two passes, including one he returned 49 yards for an encounter, and Florida went on to beat Missouri 24-17 on Saturday to finish the six-board skate in the Southeast Conference game.
Hill’s pick of 6 was among the many big plays that gave the Gators (4-2, 1-2 SEC) their first win of the tournament in a year. His the second intercept ends the drive in the third quarter reached Florida’s 16-yard line.
“Words can’t even describe it,” Hill said. “Just grateful for being here.”
It was a breakthrough performance for Hill, a third-year sophomore who is playing his second game since returning from an anterior cruciate ligament tear that wiped out his 2021 season. Hill was expected to start this past spring but injured another ligament in the same knee and required arthroscopic surgery.
“It’s a story, isn’t it?” Coach Billy Napier said. “Discipline to continue rehab, to stay on course. He has a passion for the game. I always enjoyed watching him in the spring ball game that he is one of the outstanding players. The best that we have. That showed today. … He’s a difference-maker today.”
Hill’s match with the Tigers (2-4, 0-3) also backed up his message board comments earlier this week.
“I’m like, ‘Man, I know what we have to do,'” Hill said. “We have to beat Missouri. That’s what we have to do. What I said, I have to support it. I came out here and I did it.”
Missouri has beaten Florida 5 times in 10 previous encounters. But the Gators enter Saturday’s game as 10 1/2-point favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook and it looks like they could be in trouble after winning just 65 yards in the first half.
But from Florida The match on the ground took place in the second halflong run from Montrell Johnson (36, 41), Trevor Etienne (39) and Anthony Richardson (32) to find the end zone.
The Gators finished with 231 yards of dash, including 212 yards after the break. Johnson leads with 86 yards and a touchdown.
However, it was Florida’s defense who played an important role in the game. The Gators stopped games 4 and 2 with 1:17 left to send the Tigers through.
“I feel like we’re built to play winning football,” said Napier, who improved to 19-4 in one-handed matches as head coach.
Richardson completed eight of 14 66-yard passes, with one touchdown and one interception. It was his fifth straight game with at least one spin. He also ran for 45 yards.
Mizzou’s coach Eli Drinkwitz said: “It’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of combat.” “Just had to figure out a way. …There are some things we’re getting better at, but we’re not getting results.”
Missouri: After narrow losses to Auburn and Georgia, Missouri had another team in the playoffs. The Tigers would have had to close the first half if it weren’t for the 48-yard return and 49-yard run.
Florida: Gators didn’t have a six-game identity in the Napier era. Many thought it would be the Richardson Show, but Richardson has had at least one gross for five games in a row. Florida can’t stop the run and has little capacity to break through.
Missouri receiver/returner Luther Burden injured his left ankle in the third round and was helped off the field. He made five hits for 20 yards.
NEW POPULAR GROUP
Longtime and former Florida administrator Jeremy Foley, credited with making the Gators one of the top athletic programs in the country, was one of nine inductees into the school’s Hall of Fame. this weekend. Foley joined as an honorary letter writer.
Join him in the class of 2022: US Olympic sprinter and backrunner Jeff Demps, swimmer Conor Dwyer, fullback Joe Haden, softball player Michelle Moultrie, basketball forward Chandler Parsons, triple jumper Christian Taylor, catcher Mike Zunino and tennis coach Steve Beeland.
Missouri: Goodbye a week before hosting Vanderbilt on October 22.
Florida: Host LSU next Saturday night, the Gators’ sixth home game in seven weeks.