ATLANTA — The Florida Gators capitalized where Michigan couldn’t; in the endzone. Quarterback Feleipe Franks led his offense with two touchdowns in the 41-15 win over the University of Michigan.
The two teams (No. 7 Mich., 10-3, No. 10 Florida, 10-3) fought to end the 2018 season with a win at the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl in downtown Atlanta.
Franks alone scored twice, rushed for 74 yards and threw for 173. Michigan had two touchdowns taken back by review, 77 rushing yards and 249 in the air.
Three Florida Gators, including Franks, running back Lamical Perine and defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson made monumental impacts in the game.
Perine carried the ball six times for 76 yards, one being a 53 yard trip past the goal line, as well as a reception from Franks in the endzone.
Gardner-Johnson, the recipient of the Defensive MVP award, got two interceptions, one being 30 yard pick six from Michigan’s Shea Patterson late in the game to cement his team’s dominance over the Wolverines.
Franks, the offensive MVP, held nothing back in the post game interview, where he sat with coach Dan Mullen, Perine and Gardner-Johnson.
“Just filled with emotion and just on how much I felt like I’ve improved from last season under Coach Mullen and Coach Johnson, and how much this team’s improved from last season as well. So it’s just a great feeling, tears of joy, that I’ve always wanted to be in the middle of confetti falling down on me, winning championships. Coach Mullen’s bringing that back to Florida.”
Shea Patterson, the Wolverines quarterback, did complete 22 of his 36 passses, but at the cost of two game-changing interceptions and five sacks. Key wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones pulled down Michigan’s lone touchdown to score in the first quarter.
That team up North had a scoring rush taken back on the first possession of the game and would continue to struggle at finishing in the endzone. Aside from the 75 yard drive for six points in the first quarter, Michigan would be held to field goals and a safety.
Michigan, running from right to left, started the first drive of the game with a successful sneak by Quarterback Shea Patterson. On 2-9 at Florida’s 46 yard line, Christian Turner broke out along the sideline for a 46 yard rushing touchdown; the six didn’t stay on the scoreboard long as review showed Turner out at the 38. The Gators then stopped a fourth down conversion to get their offense on the turf, ending the possession with a 21 yard field goal from Evan McPherson.
Patterson found Peoples-Jones for a nine yard TD, then Jake Moody sent a PAT through the goal posts to go up 3-7 over their SEC rival.
Moody then sent a ball 48 yards for three more points and would end the game with nine points. McPherson was the only Gator to score, his second came from 26 yards, out until Franks ran in the team’s first TD at the end of the half. The second half began with Florida up 13-10, and Michigan would never catch up.
“I don’t know a lot of teams that would be lining up to play us right now,” Mullens said with a smile. “… that’s part of playing in the Southeastern Conference. Week in, week out, you don’t have an off week. You got to show up and play your A-game every week. You’re prepared to play, and play big games like the one we played in today. That’s what kind of playing in a league does for you.”
In the second half Perine would score twice. Jordan Scarlett punched through the Wolverine D for a one yard score. Gardner-Johnson scored on the interception. Michigan earned another field goal and then a safety to add up to 15.
Throughout the press conference, the Gators were down right bubbly. When asked about Franks’ level of play, Mullens turned to his QB “He’s still a young player, right? You’re a redshirt sophomore?”
In his first year at Florida, Mullins improved the team’s record of 4-7 in 2017. “Turned up” is how Perine and Gardner-Johnson expect Gainesville and the Swamp to be when they bring the trophy home. Mullens didn’t disagree, but was concerned about the trophy itself.
“ I hope we got the trophy. Did we get the trophy?”
“I know what it will be like,” Mullens continued. “On January 7th, 2019 starts. We’ll enjoy this until then, and we’ll get back to work. It’s going to be the hardest off-season anybody’s been through. We’ve got to take it to another step this off-season. Another level.”
“I don’t know what you’re laughing about right there,” Mullens then said to Perine. “You better turn it up too. Life don’t get any easier for you.”
Jim Harbaugh spent roughly five minutes with the press, clearly upset about his team’s performance. “We didn’t get the run game going effectively enough. Or the passing game, the protection, and the rhythm in that area to make it — we got outplayed on that side of the ball. Defensively, it was really the same story. We didn’t play as well.”
“It was a very good season. It would have been a great season had we won this game. Didn’t get that done.”
In Michigan’s first-ever trip to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, the team suffered its first loss to the Florida Gators, falling to 4-1 all-time in the series.
Linebacker Khaleke Hudson had U-M’s second blocked kick of the game at the 4:58 mark of
the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety. He also had six total tackles, and one tackle for loss.
Franks joins Tim Tebow as the only other Gator since the start of the 2000 season to record a passing and rushing touchdown in a bowl game.
F: 3 10 14 14 – 41
M: 7 3 0 5 – 15
First Downs Rushing Passing Total Yards Sacks Tackles
F: 15 40-257 170 64- 427 5 62
M: 18 30-77 249 67- 326 3 60