Florida Gators Fall to Arkansas in the Swamp For First Time Ever, Razorbacks Win 39-36 in OT

By  //  November 4, 2023

former rockledge raider Raheim Sanders rushes for 103 yards on 18 carries

ABOVE VIDEO: Check out these highlights from Arkansas’ 39-36 win in overtime over Arkansas. The Razorbacks improve to 3-6 overall on the season, while the Gators fall to 5-4 overall.

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – The Florida Gators fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks 39-36 in overtime on Saturday in the Swamp.

Former Rockledge Raider and current Razorbacks running back Raheim Sanders ran for 103 yards on 18 carries in the victory for Arkansas.

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson fired a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyrone Broden on Arkansas’s first possession of overtime and the Razorbacks, losers of six straight coming in, shocked the host Florida Gators 39-36 Saturday at Spurrier/Florida Field, putting a different kind of spin (and mood) on the first “Black Out” game in program history.

Jefferson’s heroics came after the Gators took the lead, though they were forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Trey Smack after going three-and-out on their first possession of the extra period. Arkansas was called for holding on its first OT snap, backing Jefferson into a first-and-20 at the 35. No matter.

The next play, he ran through the UF defense for 20 yards. Tailback Raheem Sanders basically did the same on the next play, with an 11-yard run to the UF 4. The Jefferson-to-Broden game-winner came on the very next snap.

Florida had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, driving 49 yards in six plays to set up Smack — a perfect 3-for-3 on the day to that point and near-perfect 14-for-15 (with one blocked) on the season — for a 45-yard game-winning attempt. Smack’s kick sailed wide right, setting the stage for the Razorbacks to steal one on the road. Jefferson finished 20 of 31 for 255 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and weathered five sacks. He rushed 17 times for another 92 yards. Arkansas also got 103 rushing yards from Sanders and 103 receiving yards from wideout Andrew Armstrong.

All told, the Razorbacks rolled up 481 yards of total offense (UF had to sit starting defensive linemen Tyreak Sapp and Cam Jackson due to injuries), including 226 on the ground, and were 8-for-17 on third down. For the Gators, fourth-year quarterback Graham Mertz completed 26 of 42 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover.

Two of his scoring tosses went to fab freshman Eugene Wilson III, who caught eight passes for 90 yards, with TDs of 19 and 6 yards in the first period. UF, however, was limited to just 112 rushing yards and 394 in total offense.

Sophomore tailback Trevor Etienne rushed for 80 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run with 3:02 to play that put Florida in front 33-30 in the back-and-forth affair that featured eight lead changes and five ties. The UF defense needed a stop to secure a victory, but Jefferson marched his team to the Florida 26, where the Hogs were then called for back-to-back penalties (a holding, followed by a false start).

Again, no matter. Jefferson’s 10-yard completion to Broden got the Hogs back to the 31, where Cam Little drilled a 49-yard field with 44 seconds to play that provided the points (and tied score) that eventually, courtesy of Smack’s late miss, sent the game into OT.

The game marked UF’s first one to end in overtime since losing 24-23 at Missouri in 2021 in what was Coach Dan Mullen’s final one on the Florida sidelines. It was the first home overtime game since beating Florida Atlantic 20-14 in 2015 in what was Coach Jim McElwain’s first season.