Penalty for throwing a shoe costs Florida dearly in upset loss to LSU

Gators will still play Alabama in SEC Championship game in Atlanta

Florida’s loss to LSU isn’t enough to help Georgia.

The Gators were upset 37-34 Saturday night in Gainesville, Fla., but they will still play Alabama in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta next Saturday.

Florida is 8-2 in the SEC and the Bulldogs are 7-2 with a game to play against Vanderbilt. But even if Georgia finishes with an 8-2 conference record too, the Gators have already earned the spot in the SEC title game by beating the Bulldogs 44-28 in November.

But Kyle Trask and No. 6 Florida look nowhere near ready for the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Max Johnson threw three touchdown passes in his first college start, Cade York kicked a 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining and reigning national champion LSU stunned the Gators 37-34 on a cool and foggy Saturday night in the Swamp.

York drilled his kick through the dense fog and the uprights, leaving Florida with a final shot. Trask got the Gators (8-2) in position to tie it, but Evan McPherson was wide left from 51 yards on the final play. LSU (4-5) celebrated wildly all over the field.

An unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a Florida defensive player Marco Wilson for throwing the shoe of an LSU player after a tackle on third down cost the Gators, extending the Tigers’ game-winning drive. Without the penalty, LSU would have punted. Instead, the Tigers got a first down and moved into York’s long-distance range.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where an opponent threw a shoe, to be honest with you,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.

Johnson had a lot to do with the outcome too.

The son of former Super Bowl champion Brad Johnson repeatedly torched Florida’s beleaguered defense. He threw for 239 yards, nearly half of them (108) to Kayshon Boutte, and ran for 52 more.

Florida didn’t help itself with three turnovers in the first half that led to 10 points and a 24-17 lead at the break.

But for most of the game, Trask looked nothing like the Heisman Trophy front-runner. He accounted for four touchdowns and three turnovers, first putting his teammates in a hole and then helping them climb out of it. But Trask and the Gators were unable to rally to beat the undermanned Tigers.

“You can’t win doing what we did tonight, no matter what’s going on and who you’re playing,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “Minus-three turnover ratio, we don’t score touchdowns in the red zone, we can’t make key stops when we need to defensively and we lose the special teams part of the game.”

Trask ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, including his record-setting 40th of the season. He passed 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel for the most in a single season in school history.

Florida faces Alabama for the 10th time in the league title game. It’s the most common matchup since the showcase event began in 1992. The Crimson Tide hold a 5-4 advantage, including three straight wins.