Six most important plays of 2012

Six most important plays of 2012

The improbable run from a 6-6 regular season in 2011 to 11-1 in 2012 was highlighted by a few plays. The five-game swing in record happened because of a dominant defense that kept the Gators in game and always gave them a chance to win. Without six keys plays throughout the 2012 season, Florida wouldn't be playing in its first BCS game since 2009.

6. Purifoy starts with a bang against South Carolina- Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy experienced a breakout season in 2012, changing the game on offense, defense and special teams. With College Gameday in Gainesville for a top-ten matchup between the Gators and Gamecocks, Purifoy timed a corner blitz perfectly and forced a fumble from quarterback Connor Shaw on the first snap of the game to set up a Florida touchdown.

The momentum was on the Florida sideline after the play, and that didn't change much during the course of the 44-11 win. The sophomore cornerback added three tackles and one more forced fumble during the game, but without changing the game on the first snap, the Gators could have been in a close game.

5.Elam forced fumble against LSU- Florida had taken a 7-6 lead late in the third quarter on a rushing touchdown by Mike Gillislee, and the defense was trying to get the ball back. After stuffing two run plays by the Tigers, the Florida secondary had a communication error and gave up a long gain to Odell Beckham. It looked like a touchdown when he caught it, but safety Matt Elam didn't think so.

The junior ran down Beckham and punched the ball out while pulling him down for the tackle. The refs originally called Beckham down before the ball came out, but the replay showed otherwise. Pop Saunders recovered the ball and gave it back to the Gators when it was overturned.

Florida took the ball and went 77 yards before punching it into the end zone, taking a 14-6 lead and letting its defense do the rest of the work. The game secured Florida's emergence onto the national scene of the country with a win over No. 10 LSU.

4. Blocked punt to beat Louisiana- Chalk this play up as the most unpredictable. Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett led the Gators down the field to tie the game after Jeff Driskel suffered an ankle injury. With 1:14 left in the game, the Ragin' Cajuns were set to take the game to overtime. The Florida special teams unit had other ideas.

The Gators called a timeout with 13 seconds on the clock and sent the house after the block. Purifoy got his hand on the punt, and it ricocheted perfectly to Jelani Jenkins at the 36-yard line, before he ran it back for a touchdown to give Florida the win. Without this win, Florida's hopes for a BCS berth would have been shot.

3. Manuel fumble forced by Morrison- The importance of this play would have been increased if Notre Dame had lost that night to give Florida a berth in the national title game. Either way, it was still important to Florida's BCS hopes and getting back in the win column in the instate rivalry.

Florida State had all the momentum in the game. The Seminoles had a 20-16 lead and were almost to midfield. E.J. Manuel was pressured and just tried to pick up a few yards when freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison delivered a big hit to force a fumble and keep Manuel on the ground with an injury.

Mike Gillislee to the next play to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown, giving the Gators a 23-20 lead that they would continue to add to. Morrison's big hit was a critical part in the Gators taking back control of the rivalry.

2. Reed's fumble against Georgia- Not all of the important plays this season were positive ones. Despite turning the ball over five times in the game, the Gators were driving to tie the game. That's when the sixth turnover happened. Tight end Jordan Reed made a catch and was fighting for extra yards in the red zone when Georiga linebacker Jarvis Jones made another big play, punching the ball out of Reed's arms and into the end zone for a touchback.

There's still a lot that would've needed to happen if he just feel and didn't fumble. The Gators would've needed to get in the end zone and convert a two-point attempt. Even if that happened, it's still uncertain what would have happened in overtime. There were five others turnovers by Florida in the game that also changed the game in their own way, but if Reed didn't fumble the football, the Gators could be preparing for a national championship berth in January.

1. Gillislee fourth quarter touchdown at Texas A&M- This one will draw disagreement as the most important play of Florida's season, but discussion is the goal with a story like this. Texas A&M looked close to unstoppable at times in the first half in the first game with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at quarterback. The second-half adjustments by Florida slowed him down and shut out the Aggies in the second half on the way to a 20-17 win.

Gillislee's tight-rope touchdown run up the sideline in the fourth quarter gave Florida the lead after the Aggies felt like they had the momentum throughout it. In their first game as a member of the Southeastern Conference, everything was in the corner of Texas A&M to win the game, but the Gators had other ideas.

The biggest part of the touchdown run is that it served as the exclamation point for the team Florida would become in 2012. It was a team that leaned on its strong defense and wanted to run the football. Gillislee's touchdown was the starting point to a game plan the Gators would ride to an 11-1 regular season record and the breakout season he was going to have.

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