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October 20, 2012

Five key plays

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida defeated South Carolina 44-11 on Saturday. A look at five of the key plays from the game.

Fumble No. 1: On the first play of the game, Connor Shaw dropped back to pass. Loucheiz Purifoy came on the corner blitz and stripped Shaw. Lerentee McCray recovered the ball on South Carolina's 2-yard-line. The Gators scored three plays later to take a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.

Fumble No. 2: The USC defense completely stifled the Florida offense following the opening score, and the offense was able find some plays that worked after the disastrous start. It appeared they would get the ball back with about five minutes left in the first half and a chance to take the lead. Instead, Ace Sanders fumbled on the punt return. Trey Burton caused and recovered the fumble, setting up the Gators with a short field and another touchdown pass by Jeff Driskel.

Fumble No. 3: Following the touchdown, Damiere Byrd fielded the kickoff a couple of yards deep in the end zone. He hesitated, and then ran out. Solomon Patton stripped Byrd, and Chris Johnson scooped up the football and returned it to the Gamecocks' 1. Florida scored two plays later to take control of the game with a 21-3 lead

Florida converts on third-and-8: If the Gamecocks were to mount a comeback in the second half, they needed to stop Florida on its first drive of the half. That seemed very possible, given that USC held Florida to 29 yards of offense on 26 plays in the first half. It looked like more of the same when Florida managed just 2 yards on first and second down. But on third-and-8, Driskel found wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. for a 10-yard gain. The new set of downs gave the Gators offensive momentum for the first time in the game, and they rode the momentum down the field for a touchdown, and the rout was on.

Quarterback controversy: At least there will be plenty to talk about this week. When Steve Spurrier benched Shaw in favor of backup Dylan Thompson to start the second half, he opened up a quarterback controversy that will almost certainly last all week, if not the rest of the season. That is not what the Gamecocks need as they try to regroup against Tennessee. Of course, Thompson's play in the second half (8-for-20, 83 yards and an interception) hardly improved on Shaw's play (9-for-20, 72 yards), so he failed to make much of a case.

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