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Sunday September 24, 2006No. 5 Football Handles Kentucky, 26-7

Gainesville, FL

The fifth-ranked Gator football team improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday night with a 26-7 win over Kentucky (2-2/1-1 SEC) in front of 90,290 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida rolled up 514 yards in total offense and its defense registered six sacks on its way to its 20th consecutive victory over the Wildcats. Senior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was 15-of-26 for 267 yards and two touchdowns and also moved into the top spot on UF's career list for passing attempts (1,203) and passing completions (733). Senior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for the second-straight game with 104 yards on 14 carries and scored on a 13-yard run.

 

The Gators initiated the scoring on their opening drive by marching 74 yards on six plays. Senior Kenneth Tookes’ (Jacksonville, Fla.) 20-yard catch on third down and 10 was a key play that helped set up the score, along with a 21-yard rush by sophomore Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas). Leak found a wide-open Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) on a 33-yard reception with 12:16 on the clock to put the home team on the board. The scoring toss resulted from a well-executed flea flicker, as Leak handed off to junior Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.), who pitched the ball to senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.). Baker then flipped it back to Leak, who delivered a looping spiral to a waiting Cornelius in the center of the end zone for his 11th TD pass of the season.  However, senior Chris Hetland’s (Leesburg, Ga.) extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the score 6-0.

 

Kentucky moved in front with 1:59 remaining in the half, as junior quarterback Andre’ Woodson hit freshman fullback Maurice Grinter on a one-yard flag pass in the end zone to complete an eight-play, 66-yard drive. The successful conversion by freshman kicker Lones Seiber gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead.

 

The Orange and Blue retaliated on the ensuing drive by marching 78 yards down-field on seven plays to regain a lead it would not relinquish. On an 11-yard pass to Cornelius, Leak became Florida’s all-time leader in completions with 723, passing Shane Matthews (1989-92). Wynn capped off the drive on a 13-yard rush for his team-leading third rushing touchdown of the campaign. Another blocked extra point left Florida with 12-7 advantage entering the half.

 

The Gators increased their lead to 19-7 with 7:41 left in the third quarter on a four-yard rush up the middle by Moore. A pivotal play on the drive was when Leak completed a crossing pass to Tookes for 17 yards on third and 10 from Kentucky’s 30 yard-line. Hetland tacked on the extra point to put Florida up by 12 after the seven-play, 75-yard drive.

 

Florida finalized the margin with 10:04 left in the game, as Leak connected with sophomore tight end Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne, Fla.) on a six-yard toss. The reception marked the first touchdown of Ingram's career and expanded UF's lead to 26-7.

 

Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) rushed for 73 yards on six attempts, averaging 12.2 yards per carry. Baker had seven receptions for a career-high 148 yards and Cornelius had four catches for 74 yards, along with one touchdown. The Gator defense held the Wildcats to just 39 yards on the ground. Junior linebacker Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) led the defense with five total tackles, while senior defensive end Ray McDonald (Belle Glade, Fla.) and sophomore defensive end Derrick Harvey (Greenbelt, Md.) had two sacks apiece. For the Wildcats, Woodson was 26-for-37 and finished with 210 yards passing, freshman Alfonso Smith gained 29 yards rushing and junior Dicky Lyons totaled seven catches for 50 yards.

 

The Gators will host Western Division rival Alabama (3-1/1-1 SEC) next Saturday afternoon in The Swamp. The game will be carried nationally on CBS Sports starting at 3:30 p.m.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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