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This Game-Winning TD Ignited Danny Wuerffel’s Legacy
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File (left), YouTube (right)

Former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel is one of the greatest football players to ever suit up in Gainesville. That’s an undeniable fact. What he did throughout his career was nothing short of legendary, and his statue outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is proof of his greatness. You couldn’t write a better script for how it really got started, either.

With head coach Steve Spurrier on the sidelines, the 1993 college football season was all about the “Fun ’N Gun” offense. It worked in the regular-season opener against Arkansas State, but the Gators ran into a weird situation when they played the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington the following week.

The University of Florida had a bit of quarterback controversy and a scare on the road. Quarterback Terry Dean threw four interceptions. Wuerffel added three more, according to the Sun Sentinel. It was nearly disastrous until an unlikely connection completed a comeback and saved the day.

Wuerffel found walk-on wide receiver Chris Doering in the end zone with three seconds left to help the ranked Gators escape, 24-20, and that touchdown pass ignited Wuerffel’s dominant career.

Florida’s Danny Wuerffel to Chris Doering

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Florida was down 17-9 midway through the third quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback Danny Wuerffel came into the SEC game for good. He helped the Gators tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but threw two picks on his next two passes.

Then, with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Wuerffel — the former Fort Walton Beach High School star — orchestrated a beautiful drive and found wide receiver Chris Doering for a 28-yard game-winning touchdown.

The play was perfect, and it generated an all-time classic call by announcer Mick Hubert.

“3rd-and-10, 28-yard line… Wuerffel dropping back to throw, pumps it, fires the ball over the middle, IT’S DOERING! DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! OH MY! DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN! THE GATORS HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD! UNBELIEVABLE! CHRIS DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN!”

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Wuerffel and Doering were instant heroes.

“I think the play that stands out most in my mind and the one I’m most widely remembered for amongst the Gator fans is the play against Kentucky when I had the opportunity to catch the game winner with three seconds left,” Doering told GatorCountry.com. “It’s something you dream about as a kid especially for me growing up here in Gainesville, having the goal of playing for the Gators, it was such a quick ascent to me to walk on to catching my first career touchdown pass there early in the fourth quarter, to catching the game winner there later in that game with three seconds to go. It’s really surreal almost.”

The rest is history. Florida went 11-2 that season. The Gators lost to Auburn and Florida State, but won the SEC Championship Game over Alabama and took down West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.

Wuerffel won a Southeastern Conference title all four years in The Swamp, led the NCAA in touchdowns twice, was named First-Team All-American and SEC Player of the Year twice, and took home the 1996 Heisman Trophy. Outside of Tim Tebow, Wuerffel is arguably the best player in school history.

Needless to say, the Florida football team and program took a big step forward with Wuerffel under center. It all started with that comeback at Kentucky.

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This article was originally published June 11, 2020.

MORE: Ike Hilliard’s “Stop-N-Pop” Helped Florida Capture 1996 National Championship

With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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