Confident Daniels leads LSU to victory over Florida in ‘The Swamp’

KICKIN’ THE GATORS: A 47-yard field goal by Damion Ramos put LSU up by 10 points as the Tigers went into ‘The Swamp’ and came out with a 45-35 victory over Florida. 


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jayden Daniels grew up Saturday night.

The Arizona State transfer accounted for six total touchdowns, racked up 393 total yards and helped lead the LSU Tigers to a 45-35 victory in “The Swamp” against the Florida Gators.

“Assertiveness is confidence in who you’re throwing to and confidence in yourself, and I think you’re seeing that happen,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “I think that’s the maturation that’s occurring.”

That maturation was needed in a game that started with touchdowns being scored on the first four possessions.

Florida (4-3, 1-3 SEC) struck first as the Gators needed less than a minute to bring the home crowd to its feet as Anthony Richardson found Justin Shorter for a 51-yard touchdown.

LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC) responded with a precise 12-play, 75-yard drive which was capped as Daniels found running back John Emery Jr. for a seven-yard touchdown.

With its second offensive possession, Florida produced a 10-play, 75-yard drive as New Orleans native and former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns running back Montrell Johnson scored on a 39-yard touchdown.

LSU would not be outdone as the Tigers 73 yards on 12 plays with Daniels scoring on a one-yard touchdown run.

LSU’s defense forced a three-and-out on Florida’s third possession but the ensuing punt was muffed by Jack Bech and recovered by Gator Rocco Underwood.

With the short field, Florida needed only five plays to get in the end zone as Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game — this time from three yards out.

LSU’s offense seemed unfazed as it needed a mere seven plays to go 75 yards as Daniels found Brian Thomas Jr. for a 24-yard touchdown.

After another three-and-out by the Gators, the Tigers took the lead before halftime as Daniels found Jaray Jenkins for a 54-yard touchdown.

“He’s seeing things a lot better,” Kelly said. “The offense is coming to him. It’s slowing down for him. Throwing for three and running for three, you saw his athletic ability to move this offense.”

At the break, LSU held a 28-21 lead.

LSU started off the second half with a 50-yard run by Josh Williams and three plays later, Daniels ran it in from nine yards out for the touchdown.

Williams led all rushers with 106 yards on 14 carries, and did so with LSU having two freshmen starting at the tackle positions. Will Campbell returned to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game to illness, and Emory Jones Jr.

“They’re physically gifted, but they’re mentally strong to handle the rigors of play-in and play-out going against mature, physical pass rushers in the SEC,” Kelly said. “Unheard of. I’ve been doing this a long time.”

After LSU’s defense stopped Florida on fourth-and-four inside the red zone, the Tigers went 88 yards and found the end zone again as Daniels ran it from nine yards out.

Even though he didn’t score a touchdown, Kayshon Boutte came up big on the drive and in the game. The Tigers star led all receivers with 115 yards on six receptions, including a 19-yard catch on the drive.

“I made him game day captain because of the way he practiced this week,” Kelly said. “He, by far, set the standard in terms of how he went to practice. It showed in the way he played. He was faster than anybody. He broke tackles. He was a difference maker.”

In the fourth quarter, Florida began to mount a comeback.

Richardson showed off his dual-threat skills as he scored on a sensational 81-yard touchdown run. Richardson completed 15-of-25 passes for 185 yards, rushed for 109 and scored two total touchdowns.

The Gators then forced a quick three-and-out and promptly went on a 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive.

Trevor Etienne, yet another Louisiana native on the Gators’ roster, powered his way in from one yard out.

LSU settled things down with a 12-play, 46-yard drive and extended its lead to 10 points with a 47-yard field goal by Damian Ramos.

The Tigers’ defense then sealed the win as Harold Perkins Jr. stripped Richardson and Mekhi Wingo recovered the fumble.

LSU has now won four straight and 10 of the last 13 meetings with Florida.

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