Saturday October 25, 2008No. 5 Florida Tops Kentucky, 63-5, on Homecoming
In front of a Homecoming crowd of 90,589 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, No. 5 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) defeated Kentucky (5-3, 1-3 SEC), 63-5. The win marked the 22nd-straight Gator win against the Wildcats and the 19th-straight Homecoming victory.
The Gators capped off their fourth SEC victory in record-breaking fashion, tallying a school-record three blocked kicks that led to 21 of Florida’s 63 total points. Junior quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, the second of which tied him with former Gator great Emmitt Smith for the school record in career rushing touchdowns with 36.
Tebow was efficient through the air as well, completing 11-of-15 for 180 yards, while redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley (Ocala, Fla.) followed, connecting on two-of-three passes for 52 total yards. Freshman athlete Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) led Florida in receiving on the day with four receptions for 67 yards, while also leading the Gators on the ground with seven rushes for 50 yards. Junior wide receiver/running back Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) chimed in with one reception for 33 yards and a touchdown to compliment two rushing attempts, good for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Florida raced out to a 28-0 lead in the opening quarter, surpassing the most points given up by Kentucky in an entire game this season. The Wildcats had allowed 24 in a 24-17 setback to South Carolina on Oct. 11. The Gators’ 28 points also marked the most points scored by an Urban Meyer team in the first quarter.
The Gators quickly jumped to a 14-0 lead by capitalizing on a pair of blocked punts on the Wildcats’ first two possessions of the game. Florida forced Kentucky to three-and-out situations on both drives, with the first blocked punt by Gator freshman defensive end Will Green (Hoover, Ala.). The block was the first of Green’s career, recovered by redshirt freshman running back Chris Rainey (Lakeland, Fl a.). Tebow punched the ball into the end zone on a three-yard run and senior kicker Jonathan Phillips (Wellington, Fla.) connected on the extra point for a 7-0 advantage.
On UK’s second possession of the game, the Florida defense prevailed, forcing another punt situation for Kentucky. Demps penetrated the coverage to record UF’s second blocked punt, this time recovered by redshirt freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson (Belle Glade, Fla.). Junior athlete Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) scored for the Gators on a one-yard rush, with the extra point good by Phillips, to give the hosts a 14-0 cushion.
As the UF defense continued to hold Kentucky scoreless through the first quarter, Florida’s next two possessions belonged to Harvin. Harvin scored on a season-high 16-yard rush to cap a 61-yard, four-play drive that boosted UF’s lead to 21 points after Phillips’ extra point.
Florida regained possession of the ball on its own 38-yard line after holding Kentucky to its fourth three-and-out situation of the game. Following two Demps’ rushes, equaling 21 yards, Tebow connected with Harvin on a 33-yard lob for another touchdown. After Phillips found the uprights, the Gators held a 28-0 advantage.
Kentucky’s defense came alive on Florida’s next drive, as UK junior cornerback Trevard Lindley picked off a Tebow pass, allowing UK to drive to the UF three-yard line. With the Wildcats in field-goal position, Florida’s special teams’ forces ignited for the third time when sophomore defensive back Joe Haden (Ft. Washington, Md.) blocked Kentucky junior Lones Seiber’s field-goal attempt. UF sophomore safey Major Wright (Miramar, Fla.) recovered the blocked attempt and returned the ball 37 yards. Three plays later, Tebow found Demps for a 61-yard touchdown reception to jump ahead 35-0 following the extra point. It was the first receiving score of Demps’ career.
The Wildcats put their first points on the board with 5:03 left in the first half, when Seiber connected on a 27-yard field goal attempt following a 14-play, 76-yard Kentucky drive, to bring the score to 35-3.
On Florida’s next possession, the Gators marched downfield and scored on a three-yard quarterback keeper by Tebow with 26 seconds until the break. The rushing tally was the 36th of his career, matching Gator great Emmitt Smith atop the school’s chart, and enabled the Gators to enjoy a 42-3 margin at the half.
Nine seconds into the second half, the Gator defense continued to haunt UK as sophomore safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland, Fla.) picked off sophomore Wildcat quarterback Mike Hartline for a 40-yard interception for a touchdown, Black’s third interception this season and his second for a touchdown. Black’s interception for a touchdown was the fourth of the season for the team, making Florida, Rice, Missouri and San Jose State the only four teams in the country to return four interceptions for touchdowns this season.
After forcing a Kentucky punt, senior running back Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas) capped off a 78-yard, 16-play scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown rush to bring the Gators ahead, 56-3, following the extra point. The touchdown was Moore’s second of the season.
On Florida’s next possession, Brantley took over as the leader for the Gators. Brantley connected with redshirt junior wide receiver David Nelson (Wichita Falls, Texas) on a 38-yard touchdown pass, with the extra point good by Phillips, to give Florida a 63-3 advantage. In one series, both Brantley and Nelson set season and career highs, Brantley tossing his first and longest touchdown pass, and Nelson receiving his first and longest touchdown catch.
After Kentucky failed to convert a fourth-and-two on the Gator four-yard line, Florida took over on downs. Following a strong defensive stand by Kentucky, Florida was forced to punt from its endzone, only the second punt of the day. After a wild snap that senior punter Bobby Kane (Coconut Creek, Fla.) couldn’t grasp, Kentucky secured a team safety that would bring the final margin to 63-5.
Kentucky freshman quarterback Randall Cobb finished the day 9-for-18, good for a total of 78 yards, while Cobb additionally led all UK rushers with 52 yards on nine attempts. Junior John Conner led the Wildcats in receiving with 26 yards on three receptions.
The Gators will be back in action Nov. 1 when they take on SEC foe Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., from the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Game time is slated for 3:30 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast by CBS.