By the time Florida’s defense realized Jake Bentley still had the ball in his hands, there was nothing any of its players could do.
It was too late. Bentley had fooled them all.
After faking a handoff to running back A.J. Turner on the 12-yard line, South Carolina’s sophomore quarterback took off down the right side of the field, gliding into the end zone untouched for an easy touchdown with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
It was another rough outing for UF on Saturday against the Gamecocks, one that saw the Gators allow a season-worst 469 yards on defense in 28-20 defeat at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Florida (3-6, 3-5 SEC) surrendered 249 yards through the air and 220 yards on the ground, most of which came at the hands of Bentley and Turner.
Bentley completed 19 of 29 passes and converted six attempts that gained 15 yards or more, while Turner carried the ball 22 times for 136 rushing yards.
Interim coach Randy Shannon said after the contest that his team's inability to stop South Carolina's top offensive weapons were a result of "mismatches" and a lack of depth.
"We was trying to get our best players on their best players," Shannon said. "We've got a lot of injuries on this football team... Those things are nicks that can affect you."
For UF’s offense, graduate transfer Malik Zaire earned his second straight start at quarterback and completed 7 of 14 passes for 49 yards before going down with a knee injury in the second quarter.
Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks took over in his place but struggled with his accuracy, completing 10 of 25 passes for 174 yards and one interception.
Gators running backs Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson failed to make an impact as well, combining for 59 yards on nine total carries.
As a whole, the Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) registered 24 first downs compared to Florida’s 12, converted 5-of-13 third downs compared to Florida’s 2-of-15 and ran 76 plays compared to Florida’s 61, culminating in UF’s fifth consecutive loss dating back to Sept. 30.
"We did a lot of things we need to keep improving on," Shannon said.
The Gamecocks took an early 14-0 lead after Bentley and running back Mon Denson notched a pair of rushing touchdowns in the opening 13 minutes of the first quarter.
Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro then notched back-to-back field goals to cut Florida’s deficit down to eight.
However, after respective scores from Denson and Perine sent South Carolina into halftime with a 21-13 lead, Bentley’s third-quarter touchdown run put the game out of reach.
Florida made a late comeback attempt after a 1-yard run into the end zone from Thompson reduced its deficit back down to eight with 3:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, but an interception on the following drive from Franks to Gamecocks defensive back Jamyest Williams ended its chances of pulling off a win.
"Had a chance at the end of the game," Shannon said. "Just couldn't get it done."