There are two halves in the game of football.
The Florida Gators and Virginia Cavaliers showed up in the first half of the Orange Bowl. In the second half, the juice belonged to the Gators.
Before I can have my last spoon of baked beans in the media press box, Gators running back Lamical Perine scored on a 61-yard run in the opening minute. It turned out to be one of his three touchdowns to help the Gators chomp on the Cavaliers 36-28.
“We did not lose focus on anything,” Perine said. “We knew the common goal, and that was to win this game.”
Perine totaled 181 yards rushing and receiving with three touchdowns.
“My sophomore year, we were 4-7,” Perine said. “We came back and had two double-digit win seasons. It’s great, man.”
The Gators notched their first 11-win season since 2012.
He entered the game with only 538 yards rushing this season. Perine carried 13 times for a career-high 138 yards rushing to close out his senior season.
“He’s one of the top running backs in the SEC,” Gators head coach Dan Mullen said. “People say, `The stats say this, the stats say that.’ But every time we needed a big run this season, he came up with it.”
Florida finished with 549 yards, including a season-high 244 rushing, the Cavaliers finished with only 52 yards on the ground.
The win also puts the team at 21-5 in two seasons under coach Mullen. Only Urban Meyer had a better record in his initial back-to-back seasons in Gainesville, Florida.
The Cavaliers had momentum-changing plays in the first half on defense and offense to keep the densely crowded Gator fans cheering at a minimum.
The Cavilers ran out of juice in the second half. Dual-threat senior quarterback Bryce Perkins threw for 323 yards and four scores in the final game of his career.
“Next year, these guys are going to be a force to reckoned with,” Perkins said.
Perkins broke the school’s record for total offense career with 7,910 yards.
The marathon continues.
The Gators open next season on Sept. 5th against Eastern Washington.
The Cavaliers’ will take their talents to Atlanta to play Georgia on Monday, Sept. 7th.