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Nov. 26, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Devonta Freeman had two short touchdown runs following turnovers, and Florida State beat rival Florida 21-7 on Saturday night despite only 95 yards of offense.
The Seminoles (8-4) took advantage of John Brantley's first-half mistakes and later knocked the senior quarterback out for good.
Florida State sealed its second consecutive win in the once-revered series when Terrance Parks intercepted a pass by Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter and returned it 29 yards for a score, which sent many of the 90,798 on hand scrambling for the exits.
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The Gators (6-6) avoided their first shutout since 1988 when Brissett found Quinton Dunbar for a 6-yard score with 4:16 remaining.
Brantley ended the worst game of his career in the locker room. He was sandwiched between two defenders as he released a pass late in the second quarter and sustained an apparent concussion.
He stayed on the ground, slipped off his helmet and eventually walked off the field with help from trainers. He was seemingly on the receiving end of helmet-to-helmet contact, which also caused bleeding to his left cheek.
Brissett replaced Brantley and did little to rally the Gators (6-6) from a 14-point deficit.
Brantley completed 9 of 15 passes for 104 yards, with three interceptions. Brissett was 4 of 13 for 27 yards.
EJ Manuel wasn't much better for Florida State. He was 6 of 13 for 65 yards and was sacked four times on a mostly miserable night in which the Seminoles managed seven first downs.
Turnovers were the difference.
Brantley was picked off on three of Florida's first five possessions. All three were bad throws, prompting some boos and plenty of speculation that he might get benched in his home finale.
Brantley telegraphed a long throw across the field, and Greg Reid stepped in front of Dunbar and intercepted the pass. Freeman took over from there, but he also got some help.
Florida's Ronald Powell was flagged for a personal foul on third down, giving FSU a first-and-goal at the 1. Freeman sneaked across the line on the next play.
Brantley's second interception was even more inexcusable, maybe the worst of his career. He scrambled right and threw a balloon ball across the field and into triple coverage. Mike Harris plucked that one out of the air and returned it 89 yards. Florida's Deonte Thompson made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 4-yard line, but Freeman scored three plays later to make it 14-0.
The Gators outgained Florida State 140-39 at halftime.
Florida State receiver Kenny Shaw and Florida defensive end Lerentee McCray exchanged words as the teams headed into the locker room at halftime. Shaw got the last laugh, though, as he simply pointed to the scoreboard.
The oddest play of the night came on a fourth-and-inches play in the second quarter. With Brantley struggling, the Gators lined up tight end Trey Burton at quarterback and ran him into Florida State's vaunted front. Burton was stuffed, then tried to reverse field and make something happen. He ended up losing 14 yards.
Both teams also lost key players during the game.
Florida State defensive end Brandon Jenkins left the game with concussion-like symptoms.
Florida lost Brantley, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, running back Chris Rainey and guard Jon Halapio. Easley and Rainey were helped from the field to the locker room.
Possibly more serious, Florida linebacker Darrin Kitchens was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half. He was strapped to a backboard and carted to the locker room. There was no immediate word on any of Florida's injuries.