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Wild Games Once Again in Florida Collegiate Conference

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Wild Games Once Again in Florida Collegiate Conference

With Florida DIAA College Conference leaders South Florida getting a bye this weekend, USF could sit back and watch the rest of the league go at each other.

Which is exactly what they did.

Two of the games were one-pointers, with Florida edging past Florida Atlantic 18-17 and Florida International coming back to defeat Florida State 34-33.

Florida State struck early, cutting up the middle after a lineout-and-maul. But the Seminoles committed a holding-on penalty right off the restart, FIU took the lineout, were stopped, but the play was called back for an earlier penalty. The Panthers then scored off a quick tap. FSU went right back to get into scoring position and as they seemed ready to score were awarded a penalty try  now led 14-5.

With FIU pressuring the FSU line, but a turnover and quick hands saw the Seminoles burst through for 100 meters and a length-of-the-field try. FSU seemed in control. FIU had done well chasing the restart and camping out in FSU territory and they did it again. This time they kept hold of the ball and bashed it over.

That made it 21-12 but the teams continued to trade tries, making it 28-24 FSU at halftime. 

The seminoles scored in the corner—Sam Williams scoring his fourth—to extend their lead to 33-24 early in the second half. Amazingly, they would score no more. The game slowed down significantly as it progressed. FIU was able to limit Florida States scoring by controlling the ball. The Panthers took points on a kickable penalty to inch closer at 33-27; it was a smart move as it brought FIU within a converted try with five minutes left.

Florida State's restart failed to go 10 meters and from the ensuing scrum center, FIU launched a sequence. They got another scrum, and a free kick from there where a quick tap and a weaving, dummy-filly run put the Panthers under the posts. The conversion was good and that was the final play. Florida International never led until the very last play.

That result bumped FIU to 2-2 and dropped the defending conference champions to 1-2. However, Florida State's two losses have been close ones and they have four bonus points from three games, keeping them will in the hunt for a higher seed.

Florida did juuust enough to hold off Florida Atlantic and move to 3-1, which nudged them past the idle Bulls. 

"Our scrums are coming together and that made it difficult for FAU to get clean ball from scrums," said Florida Head Coach ken Simmons. "We also stole a few lineouts. FAU's defense kept our backs in check for the first time this season."

But, Simmons added, it was the howling wind that limited the scoring. The first half was all Florida with the wind, and the Gators scored two tries, converted one, and added two penalies.

The second half was FAU's, as they scored three tries, converting one. The last 15 minutes said FAU inside the Florida 22 battling to get that final score. But the Gators' defense was solid and they ended up holding the ball up in-goal.

"It was a true test of discipline and desire," said Simmons. "We still have work to do, but overall, we are proud of the progress we've made."

Central Florida also moved to 2-2 with a 40-14 defeat of North Florida. 

"The difference this week was our young forwards being able to really dominate after a difficult start to the season," said UCF Head Coach Evan Haigh.

First-year prop Brandon Ruiz stole seven lineouts in this game and was a powerful force around the field.

Captain and scrumhalf Mark Carvajal led the team with four tries and commanded the young forward pack expertly.

"We are really looking forward to the conference championship rematch with FSU and our annual Alumni weekend," said Haigh.

That game will also be a celebration of UCF's 1st DIAA national championship in 2013.

Next week also South Florida will take on FIU and FAU will play North Florida. 

Florida CC W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Florida 3 1 0 103 83 20 3 0 15
South Florida 3 0 0 102 44 58 2 0 14
Central Florida 2 2 0 133 115 18 3 0 11
Florida International 2 2 0 104 132 -28 3 0 11
Florida State 1 2 0 93 85 8 2 2 8
Florida Atlantic 1 2 0 83 72 11 1 2 7
North Florida 0 3 0 35 136 -101 0 0 0