Posted: 3:02 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013
By Jason Lieser
A lot of wacky things happened on Loucheiz Purifoy’s punt return near the end of the first half of Florida’s 30-10 win over Arkansas on Saturday. In the middle of a scrum for the ball, Purifoy and Razorbacks LB Jarrett Lake each clutched the ball.
Under the mountain of players, Purifoy claimed Lake spit on him.
“That’s probably the worst thing that happened to me at the bottom of the pile,” Purifoy said. “But I just can’t react and do something to him.”
How did he restrain himself from retaliating? He thought about the wrath of coach Will Muschamp.
“You seen our coach?” Purifoy said.
Purifoy signaled for a fair catch on the punt return with 1:42 left in the second quarter, but bobbled the ball. As he tried to collect it, an Arkansas’ Austin Jones hit him and caused a frenzied rush for the ball. The officials did not rule whether Purifoy or Lake recovered the ball, because Jones’ hit was a penalty.
The NCAA rule states that on a fair catch, the returner has a right to be unimpeded to the ball unless it hits the ground. Purifoy’s mishandling of the ball sent it up rather than down, thus he still had the right to corral it.
It was a critical play. Florida was up 10-7 at the time, and Arkansas could have at least tied it if it had recovered the fumble. Instead, the Gators kept possession and drove 75 yards for a touchdown just before halftime.