Hail Feleipe! Gators win on game’s final play

by Gary Shelton on September 17, 2017 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, University of Florida

Cleveland hauled in a game-winnnig touchdown on the last play./CARMEN MANDATO

Cleveland hauled in a game-winning touchdown on the last play./CARMEN MANDATO

Cleveland made it his business to come down with the ball./CARMEN MANDATO

Cleveland made it his business to come down with the ball./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 4 a.m.

The pass soared straight and long. It went beyond the doubts and critics. It went beyond the questions and the whispers.

It flew above Will Muschamp, and above Jeff Driskell, and above Will Greer. It went behind average quarterbacks on the fields of the legends. It went beyond a bad offense and beyond seats on fire.

In the end, it was “only” 63 yards, but for the time being, it makes a difference in the reality of a coach, of an offense, of a quarterback.

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Franks gave fans hope that he's the answer at qb./CARMEN MANDATO

Franks gave fans hope that he's the answer at qb./CARMEN MANDATO

In the end, a last-second heave from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland meant more than a 26-20 victory over Tennessee. It restored faith. It enabled belief. It provided success.

For Florida, it was the biggest singular play since, oh, Will Greer beat Tennessee with a 63-yard heave on a fourth-and-14 late in the game two seasons ago. Two years later, Tennessee still hasn't learned to protect deep. Shortly after that game, Greer was popped for performance-enhancing drugs, and he ended up leaving the program.

"I think everybody found out (Franks) can throw the ball a long ways in the air,” McElwain said. “I just enjoyed watching the guys (celebrate). I just enjoyed seeing their

How to you calm the noise?  McElwain won a close one./CARMEN MANDATO

How to you calm the noise? McElwain won a close one./CARMEN MANDATO

excitement. I know how hard they have worked and what they’ve put into it. For me, it was just seeing the people and the organization enjoying the moment.

 “I wouldn’t say (it was great) for the program. What it’s great for, it’s great for these players and it’s great for the people, the city of Gainesville and all the Florida fans. That’s what it’s great for.”

For Franks, the future seems brighter. Oh, he he threw for only 212 yards, and he had an interception in the fourth period that Tennessee turned into the game's tying points. But that thunderbolt at the end is sure to give him more time to develop into the kind of quarterback that Florida needs.

“For me, I love throwing the ball deep,” he said. “That’s fun, stretch the field a little bit — and definitely have the receivers to do that. “Growing up, as a kid you always think about plays like that happening in your life. When you come out here and it actually happens, it’s kind of indescribable. There are no other words I can put into what just happened.”

“I was actually thinking about running it. It was kind of like an in-the-moment thing. I set my feet and put it up for him.””

John Kelly had 141 yards rushing for Tennessee and 96 yards receiving. However, the Vols missed three fields on the afternoon.

It obviously was not pretty,” UF coach Jim McElwain said. “But sometimes in this business it's about figuring out a way to win."

Powell dives for the score for the Gators./CARMEN MANDATO

Powell dives for the score for the Gators./CARMEN MANDATO

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