Saturday’s game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Florida within the Swamp was a momentous occasion, a contest defined even as much by decisive, momentum-swinging plays as near misses for both teams. It appeared initially that the top-ranked Tide would run the Gators out of their own stadium, jumping to a 21-3 first-quarter lead off the passing prowess of Bryce Young (22 of 35 passing, 240 yards, three touchdowns). But Dan Mullen’s team nearly fought back from the 18-point deficit, ultimately falling 31-29 after linebacker Jaylen Moody brought down Florida quarterback Emory Jones on the ultimate play of the sport :
That was the ultimate play of the game, but there have been several more that had a greater impact on the sport, a too-close involve Alabama and Co. early within the 2021 season. With that, Sporting News breaks down the most important plays and near misses from Saturday’s matchup: No play had a much bigger direct impact on the sport than Florida’s game-tying attempt. By that time within the game, Alabama’s defense wasn’t only gassed, but also showed an entire inability to prevent the Gators’ rushing attack.
Why then, did Jones (18 for 28, 195 passing yards, 77 rushing yards) hold the ball for therefore long on the zone-read option, right after Dameon Pearce strolled in nearly untouched after a 17-yard score? The slow-developing play allowed linebacker Drew Sanders to urge a lick on Jones, and for Alabama’s defense to immerse Malik Davis before he could get a full head of steam. Regardless, the failed attempt completely altered the way Alabama approached its final possession of the sport because the offense elected to travel conservative during a bid to bleed the clock.
Florida had six first-half drives against Alabama, which led to a field goal, interception, turnover on downs, and two punts. The Gators’ lone touchdown drive provided a quick glimpse of the last half, however, as Davis rumbled his way into the top zone, dragging Alabama defenders in with him. The touchdown ultimately made the score 21-9 — more thereon during a minute — but, more importantly, provided a much-needed spark for the Gator’s offense. It also set the tone for a way Mullen attacked the Alabama defense within the second half: Florida outgained the Crimson Tide 245-91 on the bottom, also eclipsing its passing total (195 yards) by 50 yards.
Alabama was nearly incapable of stopping the run within the last half, and it all started with this 26-yard score. it is easy to point to the missed 2-point attempt because of the game-defining play, but the rationale Florida found itself in need of the trial is due to a routine extra point attempt that went wide right. Following Davis’ 26-yard touchdown, Chris Howard’s attempt was off the mark, keeping Florida that much further faraway from the nation’s top-ranked team. Florida ended up closing the space, but the missed PAT was the last word difference. Alabama had just one touchdown drive within the last half, one that received an enormous hand from Florida linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. Young was looking to focus on John Metchie III on third-and-12 from Florida’s 30; his pass was nearly intercepted, but only because Cox flattened Metchie on the route.
Who can say what would have happened had Cox not hit Metchie on the route? Perhaps he would have caught the ball and stretched just far enough for a primary down; maybe he could have gone for a touchdown on the play. Or it could are an interception. what’s certain, however, is that it kept Alabama alive another play; the Tide ended up scoring a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to require a 28-16 lead. Last, but not least: Alabama’s final scoring drive of the day, capped with a 24-yard field goal from Will Reichard, alright could are a touchdown — or an enormous defensive stop for Florida.
Before kicking the sector goal, Alabama appeared able to choose it on fourth-and-1, which might are its second-straight scoring drive to finish on a fourth-down conversion attempt. But a false start by Emil Ekiyor Jr. — within the face of an incredibly loud Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — made it fourth-and-6, bringing out the sector goal unit. The penalty ended up keeping Alabama out of the top zone, a method or another, and kept Florida a touchdown and 2-point conversion far away from tying the sport . If Alabama scores on fourth down, it might likely be the top of the sport, then and there. Or perhaps Florida notches the defensive stop, goes 99 yards to require the lead, and sends Alabama home with a loss. Again, who knows what would have happened, or what impact it might have had on the game?