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Close Games All Through Florida College Conference

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Close Games All Through Florida College Conference

South Florida is still on top. Kamen Photos.

Florida State edged Central Florida to inch a little closer to the top of Florida's DIAA College Conference.

Two games this weekend in Florida ended up 29-27, which is a little strange. One of those was FSU's victory over UCF, bumping the Seminoles to 2-2 and seeing UCF drop to 2-3.

"FSU played well," said UCF Head Coach Evan Haigh. "But ultimately it is our own continued mistakes that continue to cost us this season. Our discipline was also awful; we we were penalized 13 to 3 in this game so we must get a lot better before we take on the undefeated usf next week, which is our final game."

Anthony Drabek led the defensive effort from Central Florida and captain Mark Carvajal ran a potent attack, but those penalties hurt.

For Florida State, this was an improvement.

"Not sure if we're doing anything better," said FSU Head Coach Michael Gomez. "We haven't responded to adversity well this year. Every time we score we let the other team score rather than keep pressure on. I think we're doing a good job of putting kids in tough situations and having them grow."

A large chunk of the FSU starting 15 were freshmen, so they have some learning to do for sure. Gomez said the talent coming up should light a spark under the older players.

The teams traded tries back and forth throughout the game. Two tries from Sam Williams put FSU in a solid position at 17-7 early in the second half, but Jack Puchalski inched UCF closer at 17-12. Darrett Dollinger answered for the Seminoles only to see Jeremiah Birch's try, converted by Caleb Goertzen, keep pace. Now it was 24-19 for FSU. The final 10 minutes were dramatic as Matthew Aldersom went over for UCF, and Goertzen then added a penalty goal for a 27-24 UCF lead. But as time was winding down Aamir Taariq was over for the game-winner.

Florida Atlantic and North Florida were in a back-and-forth battle also. It was 10-8 UNF at halftime. Two tries early in the second half gave FAU a boost but UNF answered. It wasn't until late in the day when lock Dylan Earp scored on a pick-and-go after Zachary Kirstein's punishing run on a quick tap that FAU could relax. That try made it 29-20 and while North Florida scored one more, they didn't have enough time for anything else and FAU won 29-27.

League-leaders South Florida did what they do with a 46-24 victory over FIU. South Florida moves the ball extremely well but their opening score was more of a basher, with flanker Bradford Ballard crashing over barely two minutes in. After that prop Bryce Bannister cut back against the grain after a tape penalty move and thundered over for the Bulls' second. 

Outside center Michael Burrell finally got in the act and USF led 19-0 going into the break. Just before halftime FIU scored through Nicholas Lane, and that in fact sparked a bit of a comeback, and two FIU tries sandwiched one from South Florida in the second half to make it a ballgame at 24-19. 

But South Florida finished well with three tries in the final quarter, the pick of them likely being the final one when FIU's tenacious defensive effort was finally burned when Burrell found he had space about 40 meters out, bifurcated two defenders, and outstripped the cover to finish the game 46-24—a game that was really a lot closer than that.

So now South Florida remains atop the conference even as the idle Florida Gators breathe down their necks.

Florida CC W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
South Florida 4 0 0 148 68 80 3 0 19
Florida 3 1 0 116 83 33 3 0 15
Central Florida 2 3 0 160 151 9 4 2 14
Florida State 2 2 0 122 112 10 3 2 13
Florida International 2 3 0 128 177 -49 4 0 12
Florida Atlantic 2 2 0 119 99 20 1 2 11
North Florida 0 4 0 62 165 -103 1 1 2