TALLAHASSEE — As Florida running back Mike Gillislee sprinted to the end zone in the fourth quarter Saturday night, all Florida State's Bjoern Werner could do was watch.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end had made play after play in the third quarter to help get the Seminoles revved up and back in the ballgame, which they trailed 13-3 at halftime. He was the key reason FSU was able to score two third-quarter touchdowns to take the momentum and the lead against the rival Gators.
But as the big German watched the speeding Gillislee, he watched the 'Noles' momentum evaporate. UF would put up another touchdown shortly thereafter and the two straight scores were enough to make all of Werner's third-quarter heroics an afterthought in the Gators 37-26 victory.
"The momentum switched, you know," Werner said. "They were up and we changed it and went up, then they went up again.
"That was crazy. I never been in a game like that. It [momentum] swing back and forth . At the end, they had the momentum. It was crazy. Most definitely a game I will remember forever. We lost it, but, you know …"
Werner's first big play came on UF's first drive of the second half. Facing third-down-and-13, Werner and Cornellius Carradine teamed to cause an intentional grounding penalty by UF quarterback Jeff Driskel, officially resulting in a sack. After a punt on fourth-and-28, FSU needed just four plays to get in the end zone to pull within 13-10.
On the next UF series, Werner came up big again, recovering a Driskel fumble to set up another FSU touchdown four plays later and the 'Noles had the lead and all the momentum it seemed they would need.
Just for good measure, Werner added a nine-yard sack of Driskel on the next series and UF punted again. The next drive resulted in a Dustin Hopkins 53-yard field goal and FSU led 20-13.
"As a pass rusher you have to take advantage of the home field and the crowd was so loud . . . they did a great job," Werner said of the Seminoles' momentum in the third. "You always like try to jump the snap and stuff like that and it worked a couple of times."
But for three of the quarters, it mostly didn't.
The fourth quarter, especially, belonged to Florida. The Gators went to the ground after reclaiming the lead, thus avoiding Werner's onslaught of a pass rush. They also ran to his opposite side. The result was two rushing touchdowns — by Gillislee and Matt Jones — in the final period, and another score on a Jeff Driskel pass to Quinton Dunbar, a play that Driskel kept alive with his legs, and the Gators sent Seminoles fans to the Doak Campbell Stadium gates early.
"Bjoern always makes plays. Bjoern plays great every week," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "The thing was, and I'll have to look at the film .. but we lost contain.
"The key was they were able to run the football. They made a lot of plays on offense against our defense. They got momentum there when they got up. Our kids played hard, we just didn't play well."