Marco Wilson’s penalty for throwing opponent’s shoe costs No. 6 Florida in upset loss to LSU

Jace Evans
 
| USA TODAY

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Who throws a shoe, honestly? 

The answer, apparently, is Florida defensive back Marco Wilson. 

The redshirt junior was penalized late in the fourth quarter of a tied game after he threw the shoe of LSU tight end Kole Taylor, which had ended up in his hands following a third-down stop. 

That 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty kept a late LSU drive alive, and the Tigers were able to take a 37-34 lead with 23 seconds to go when kicker Cade York drilled a 57-yard field goal through the uprights at a foggy Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

Florida was able to quickly drive down for one last chance at tying the game, but kicker Evan McPherson’s 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired drifted just wide, giving LSU the upset victory over the No. 6 Gators.  

It’s been a tough season for LSU, which entered its game at The Swamp in the midst of one of the worst seasons ever experienced by a defending champion. But the Tigers have at least one highlight from the 2020 season they can look back fondly on.

Said LSU coach Ed Orgeron postgame of the surreal finish: “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where an opponent threw a shoe, to be honest with you.” 

Though Wilson’s gaffe will be the defining highlight of this game, the seeds of the upset were sown in the first half. 

Despite wildly outgaining the Tigers through 30 minutes and holding a decisive edge in time of possession, the Gators entered halftime down 24-17. The cause of their deficit was rather simple: turnovers. 

Heisman Trophy front-runner Kyle Trask threw two interceptions on back-to-back drives in the first half, including a pick-six that put the Tigers up 14-7. His other pick, an incredible play by LSU that saw defender Jay Ward haul in the interception after multiple deflections, halted another Florida drive deep in Tigers territory. Trask also fumbled right before halftime, which allowed LSU to tack on three points before the break. 

The Tigers added another field goal on a lengthy drive out of the half to go up 27-17. 

Trask and the Gators responded with two quick touchdowns to jump back in front at 31-27, but LSU regained the lead following an 84-yard drive when quarterback Max Johnson hit Tre Bradford for a 4-yard TD.  

Florida tied the game at 34 with 2:51 to go with McPherson’s 31-yard field goal. 

That set the stage for Wilson’s shoe-toss. 

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Though Trask’s overall numbers were strong (he had 474 yards and two touchdowns and added another two scores on the ground), his turnovers helped the maligned Tigers defense stay in the game. Johnson, the son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, was steady for the Tigers, throwing for 239 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed for 52 yards. 

“You can’t win doing what we did tonight, no matter what’s going on and who you’re playing,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “Minus-three turnover ratio, we don’t score touchdowns in the red zone, we can’t make key stops when we need to defensively and we lose the special teams part of the game.”  

For Florida, the loss likely ends their hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. Even if the Gators beat Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game, their path is muddied by picking up a second loss. Texas A&M has been consistently ranked above Florida in the committee’s rankings thanks to the Aggies’ win over the Gators. Even if Florida beats ‘Bama, the SEC will still (likely) have two other one-loss teams to choose from and the committee in the past has chosen one-loss teams over conference champs. 

Contributing: Associated Press

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