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Graham Mertz, Florida rally late, beat South Carolina

Graham Mertz threw for a career-high 423 yards with three touchdowns, including two with less than five minutes remaining, in Florida’s 41-39 comeback win Saturday over South Carolina at Columbia, S.C.

Florida (5-2, 3-1 SEC) won its first road game after losing the previous two against Utah and Kentucky.

Mertz’s passing helped Florida convert on fourth-and-11 and fourth-and-1 plays in a drive that resulted in his 4-yard touchdown pass to Arlis Boardingham with 4:40 left, cutting South Carolina’s lead to 37-34.

Mertz completed 30 of 48 passes without throwing an interception.

South Carolina (2-4, 1-3) was forced to punt after Mertz’s scoring connection with Boardingham.

Florida started the possession following the South Carolina punt at its 25-yard line with 2:43 remaining.

After three straight incompletions, Mertz completed a 26-yard pass to Ricky Pearsall on the fourth-and-10 play.

Montrell Johnson Jr. rushed for 11 yards before Mertz connected with Eugene Wilson III for 22 yards, taking the ball to the South Carolina 16.

After Johnson was stuffed for a 5-yard loss, Mertz completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Pearsall with 47 seconds left, putting the Gators ahead 41-37.

Pearsall had 10 receptions for 166 yards.

South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, who completed 23 of 30 pass attempts for 313 yards with four touchdowns, threw his first interception in the next possession.

Miguel Mitchell’s interception occurred at the Florida 31 with 20 seconds left.

South Carolina used its three timeouts afterward, forcing the Gators to take a safety with four seconds remaining.

A lateral attempt by South Carolina’s Dakereon Joyner on the punt attempt was fumbled and recovered by Florida’s Aaron Gates as time expired.

Florida’s Trey Smack made four field goals, the last from 54 yards, putting the Gators ahead 27-24 with 7:24 left in the third quarter.

Rattler’s 3-yard scoring strike to McDowell on the first play of the fourth quarter put the Gamecocks ahead 31-27.

Rattler’s 24-yard pass to O’Mega Blake set up his 33-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Simon with 9:11 remaining to give South Carolina a 37-27 lead.

–Field Level Media

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