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Gators Throw Away College Football Playoffs with a Penalty for the Ages

Costing his team a chance at the CFP, Gators defensive back commits what may go down as one of the dumbest penalties in sports history.

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On Saturday, Florida Gators cornerback Marco Wilson, a third-year legacy player who’s widely regarded as the Gators’ best defensive back, committed what may go down as one of the dumbest penalties in sports history.

On 3rd and 10 with exactly 2:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Gators defense stuffed LSU TE Kole Taylor short of the line to gain. After setting up a punt to their offense, led by Heisman-trophy front runner Kyle Trask, the Gators’ celebration was cut short as Wilson inexplicably ripped off the LSU player’s cleat and threw it downfield. 

After a momentary pause by the referees, who probably had to do double-takes in the dense Gainesville fog, the penalty flags rained down like so many alligator tears. The unsportsmanlike play gave LSU a first down, and set up a 57-yard field goal by Cade York with 23 seconds left in the game. Although Trask and the Gators would put together a few chunk plays on the subsequent drive to set up their own 50+ yard field goal attempt to tie the game, Evan McPherson’s kick skirted outside the left upright, ending the game, and probably Florida’s shot at the College Football Playoff. 

Social media reactions were merciless with many bringing up Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore’s infamous “dog-pee” celebration from the 2019 Egg Bowl. In that game, Moore’s unsportsmanlike penalty after a last-second touchdown resulted in the extra-point being moved back 15 yards. In a mystical display of instant karma, the Rebels would miss the kick and lose the game by one point. Fun fact: Wilson and Moore hail from the same hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore committing the “dog-pee” penalty that cost his team the game.

Even former Gator greats were beside themselves as they joined the social media pile on:

The year started with Marco Wilson announcing his return to Gainesville for a third season. After starting as a true freshman and suffering an ACL tear early in his sophomore year, Wilson had contemplated joining the NFL draft. The decision to return for a chance at a championship looked like a great gamble for most of the year. But after being beaten repeatedly by LSU receivers on Saturday and then committing the horrible penalty that may cost his team a playoff berth, Wilson’s decision may turn out to be more ironic than heroic.

The Gators now turn their attention to next weekend’s SEC Championship Game against Alabama. It’s hard to imagine the Gators bringing the same energy into that game knowing that a win will likely still leave them short of the ultimate prize, a chance at the school’s fourth national championship.

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Augusta Falls Short Against Flagler Despite a Valiant Effort Under Difficult Circumstances

Playing with 8 men and down two starters, Augusta failed to hold off a late push by Flagler.

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Darren Lucas-White (Augusta) and Jazeic Lottie (Flagler)

Playing its second consecutive game with an eight man roster that didn’t include starters Miguel Arnold and Troy CracknellAugusta failed to hold off a late game push by Flagler, and the Saints topped the #10 ranked Jaguars 70-64 in St. Augustine Wednesday. Senior Jazeic Lottie, a transfer from Arkansas Little Rock who leads the Peach Belt Conference in scoring, posted 30 points in the win, including 9 straight during a 17-2 game closing run that spanned the final 5:14.

The outburst by Lottie made for the third time this season the 6-2 guard scored 30 or more points for Flagler (4-2, 2-1), which tallied two wins against Division I opponents in the pre-conference portion of its schedule to go along with its two PBC wins to date. Augusta (3-1, 1-1) was led by sophomore Lee Flenor, who scored 17 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and almost singlehandedly delivered a road win for the Jaguars with a 15 point, 10 rebound, second-half performance.

Darren Lucas-White (Augusta) – Photos via Flagler Athletics

Junior guard Darren Lucas-White added 15 points to go along with 4 steals, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in 38 minutes of action while simultaneously attempting to guard Lottie, who has already emerged as the conference’s best player, on the other end of the floor. That task proved too difficult during the second half when Lottie scored 21 of his 30 points.

Jazeic Lottie (Flagler)

Three specific plays by the talented newcomer give a good visual for what Augusta was up against during the second half, when Lottie found his rhythm. The explosive guard gave the Saints their first lead since early in the first half when he drove through the middle of the paint, moving from left to right, and converted an inside-hand layup on the right side of the basket with his left hand, right under the outstretched hand of Flenor, who had extended his arm to block what he thought would be a right-handed attempt by Lottie. That bucket gave Flagler a 36-35 lead with 17:00 remaining.

Fast forward to the deciding stretch, and you’ll see Lottie scoring a layup over Augusta’s 7-1 center Tyshaun Crawford to cut Augusta’s lead to 62-59 with 3:35 remaining before nailing a step back three pointer to tie the game at 62 with 2:00 left. Lottie would then make four consecutive free throws to finish his 9 point scoring stretch that gave Flagler its lead for good.

Until or unless Augusta’s roster is reinforced by the return of the likes of Arnold and Cracknell, the road ahead for the Jaguars will be difficult. But the team proved by defeating Georgia College in its conference opener, and by establishing a 62-53 lead with 5:39 remaining against Flagler Wednesday, that the will and the potential exists for this Jaguar squad to compete at a championship level, despite the obvious obstacles.

“Our effort was great,” Augusta head coach Dip Metress said after the game during the bus ride home. We were up 5 (with 4 minutes remaining) on the road, and we didn’t close it out. We’ll learn from it and get ready for the next one.”

Lee Flenor (3) and Darren Lucas-White

Lucas-White continued his transition from being the team’s defensive stopper and sixth man during his freshman and sophomore seasons to an All Peach Belt Conference caliber performer during the first four games of this pandemic influenced year. Along with Flenor, the junior figured prominently in Augusta’s second half spurt that saw the Jaguars erase a 47-41 Flagler advantage. Lucas-White nailed a mid range jumper with the shot clock ticking to zero that gave Augusta a 58-53 lead with 7:57 remaining, and 53 seconds later he followed up with a pull up jumper in transition to give Augusta a 7 point lead. Flenor then expanded the lead to 9 with a short floater on a feed from Tyree Myers before Lottie’s late game heroics stole the show.

In the first half it was freshman John Whitehead who combined with Lucas-White to score 16 of Augusta’s 18 points during an 8 minute long stretch that saw the Jaguars expand a 13-12 lead into a 31-20 advantage after Whitehead punctuated the run by knocking down two consecutive three pointers.

Metress agreed with me the morning after the game when I said that Lucas-White, Flenor and Whitehead are all showing signs of transforming themselves as players while being forced to shoulder a heavy responsibility that might not have been envisioned for them when the season began. Along with Myers, the team’s starting junior point guard and consistent leader who has quarterbacked the Jaguars to a 52-15 record since taking the keys to Augusta’s offense, and Crawford, the 7-1 preseason first-team all-conference center, Augusta’s five starters all logged more than 30 minutes of play Wednesday.

John Whitehead – Augusta

The Jaguars will need to rest fast because Saturday and Monday will bring two more road games before Augusta returns for a Wednesday/Saturday home stand next week. This Saturday’s opponent, Georgia Southwestern, which is currently allowing spectators at its home games, topped Georgia College 79-66 Wednesday to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Monday’s nemesis, Columbus State (1-1), also won last night, topping Clayton State 89-66. 

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