No. 19 LSUNo. 19 LSU rallied behind Jayden Daniels’ historic performance to score its fifth straight victory over Florida with a 52-35 win on Saturday night.
Daniels completed 17 of his 26 pass attempts and threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Daniels also rushed for 234 yards and scored on two rushing touchdowns of 85 and 51 yards.
Daniels became the first quarterback in FBS history to throw for at least 350 yards and rush for at least 200 yards. He is also one of two quarterbacks in SEC history to throw for 200 yards and rush for 200 yards, with the other being former Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
“I can’t do it on my own but not always,” Daniels said at the postgame presser after the game. “Some things I can do on my own but not always. The offensive line got a block, the running backs have to do and the receivers have to make plays. I’m just in the back trying to give them the ball and let them do what they want to do.”
The wide receiver duo of Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas were on fire once again as they both had 100-yard games. Thomas had six catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Nabers, despite not recording a touchdown, had six catches for 132 yards, with 91 of those yards coming after the catch.
LSU scored its first touchdown when a one-yard Josh Williams touchdown run would put the Tigers ahead 7-0 with 11:59 left in the first quarter. William’s touchdown run was set up by two completions from Daniels to Nabers for 52 yards total and a Daniels scramble for 14 yards.
However, Florida would march up the field with precision to tie the game. Florida quarterback Graham Mertz completed all six of his pass attempts for 61 yards and capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Wilson.
After LSU kicker Damian Ramos would put the Tigers back in the lead 10-7 with a 28-yard field goal and the Tiger defense would force Florida to punt, that’s when the Daniels show started.
On the first play of the drive from LSU’s 15-yard line, Daniels faked the handoff to LSU running back Kaleb Jackson before running the perimeter and outpacing the Florida defense for an 85-yard touchdown run, the longest run of his career.
Florida would respond with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that would be capped off by Jennings, Louisiana native Trevor Etienne’s seven-yard touchdown run to make the score 17-14 with 3:51 left in the second quarter. Florida’s touchdown drive was aided by two 15-yard personal foul penalties, one of which led to the controversial targeting penalty and ejection of LSU safety Andre Sam who looked like he made a routine tackle.
On LSU’s first possession of the second half, Jackson would burst through the line for a five-yard touchdown run to cap off a six-play, 81-yard drive to extend the Tigers’ lead to 24-14 with 11:05 left in the third quarter.
Despite being down by two touchdowns with the game turning in LSU’s favor, Florida would take the lead in just under four minutes of play.
After Florida quickly marched down the field with a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown run by Etienne, Jackson muffed the kickoff return and Florida recovered the ball on LSU’s 23-yard line. A few plays later, Mertz would sneak in the endzone for a one-yard touchdown run to give the Gators a 28-24 lead with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Gators, they still had to stop Daniels.
After Daniels completed two 12-yard passes to both Chris Hilton and Nabers, he would most likely have the play of the year for LSU. Daniels, finding no one to throw the ball, took off to scramble and weaved his way through Florida’s defense for a 51-yard touchdown.
After a deep 52-yard throw from Daniels to Brian Thomas that put LSU on FLorida’s 10-yard line, Daniels would find running back Noah Cain for a 6-yard touchdown pass to give LSU a 38-28 lead with 2:18 left in the second quarter.
Despite Etienne’s third touchdown of the night that put Florida in prime position to put them down by three points, Daniels would connect with Thomas for touchdown passes of 37 and seven yards to put the game out of reach.
Mertz went 26-for-38 with with 311 yards and a touchdown along with a rushing touchdown. Etienne finished with 99 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall led the Gators with seven catches for 103 yards.
LSU (7-3, 5-2 SEC) will take on Georgia State next week while Florida (5-5, 3-4 SEC) will take on 11th-ranked Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.