Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/27/11
GAINESVILLE, Fla. As he was introduced on Senior Day, Gators starting quarterback John Brantley received one of the loudest ovations of his career. It was undoubtedly a special moment for Brantley and his family, whose long history with Florida football is well-documented. Unfortunately for Brantley, running onto the field to a huge ovation turned out to be the highlight of his final game at The Swamp. In what has been an injury plagued season for Brantley, he was hurt again when Florida States Tim Jernigan and Brandon Jenkins sandwiched him on a hit late in the second quarter of Floridas 21-7 loss. As Jernigan hit him from one side, Jenkins helmet collided with Brantleys from the opposite side. Neither Brantley nor Jenkins returned to the game, both apparently due to concussions. Brantley needed help leaving the field and was in the trainers room receiving treatment after the game unavailable for comment. John got hit pretty good there, Florida coach Will Muschamp said. I hurt for him. You hurt for any player, regardless of it's a senior or not. I've got two sons at home and you never want to see someone struggle to finish a game or not finish a game, especially if they're a senior in their last game in The Swamp. Before getting injured, Brantley struggled to duplicate his career-best performance (329 yards, four touchdowns) in Floridas 54-32 win over Furman seven days earlier. Brantley finished 9-for-15 for 104 yards and three interceptions. Coming into the game Brantley had thrown only three interceptions all season in 209 passes and none in four starts since returning from a severe ankle injury he suffered Oct. 1 at home against Alabama. But on three of four drives in the first half, Brantley was picked off. Two of the interceptions led to FSU touchdowns and a 14-0 halftime lead for the Seminoles, the first by Greg Reid and the second by Mike Harris. Harris returned his interception 89 yards to Floridas 4. Florida faced a second-and-11 at FSUs 34 when Brantley threw a high floater across the field to Deonte Thompson that Harris snatched from the air and raced the other way. It was probably one of the better defensive performances we have had all year, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. That was a huge play Harris interception. That was the one drive that they had that got down there. With Brantley unavailable in the second half, true freshman Jacoby Brissett took over but didnt fare much better. The Gators finished with a season-low 184 yards of total offense and only 44 after halftime. Brissett finished 4 of 13 for 27 yards and an interception. Brantleys injury is just the latest for the fifth-year senior from Ocala who arrived at Florida after earning National Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior season of high school. He suffered a back injury in fall camp that forced him to miss a scrimmage and an ankle injury in the loss to Alabama that cost him two games. Brantley also hurt his arm against Vanderbilt and missed most of the fourth quarter but was able to play the following week at South Carolina. When he left Saturdays loss to FSU, it cast a dark cloud over the Gators sideline considering they only trailed by two scores at the time and Brantley is clearly Floridas best option at quarterback and one of the teams leaders. He was down, the team seemed like it was down, defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. That's our quarterback. To see him go down, it definitely takes something out of our team. Besides Brantley, the Gators also lost defensive tackle Dominique Easley, running back Chris Rainey, linebacker Darrin Kitchens and tight end A.C. Leonard to injuries during the game. Ive never seen anything like that, senior offensive lineman James Wilson said. Brantleys loss hurt the most. While he said earlier this week that he doesnt have any regrets about coming to Florida or the way his up-and-down senior season has gone, Brantley could have never expected so many injuries. With a few weeks until a bowl game, Brantley has one more game in a Gator uniform to walk off the field a winner. But on Saturday, Senior Day at The Swamp, he needed help walking off following his memorable entrance. Its always hard losing a starting quarterback, running back Jeff Demps said. Weve just faced some tough injuries this year.
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