Sunday September 6, 2009No. 1 Gators Open 2009 Season With 62-3 Win Over Charleston Southern
The No. 1 Florida Gators opened the 2009 football season with a 62-3 win against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. A crowd of 90,621, the second-largest crowd for a season-opener in UF history, came out to watch the Gators chalk up the first win of the season after holding CSU to just a field goal.
Senior quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) connected with three different Gators in the air, completing 10-of-15 attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown in less than a half of play. Tebow teamed up with senior wide receiver Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) for 105 yards on the night, including a 68-yard completion between the duo that led to UF’s first score. Additionally, Tebow scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper to kick off the second quarter.
Eight different players had touches from Tebow and redshirt sophomore John Brantley (Ocala, Fla.), who finished the night with 67 yards, completing 8-of-12 passes with two touchdowns.
The Gator running back corps dominated on the ground for 369 yards, while the Gators racked up a total of 255 yards in the air.
Sophomore running back Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half alone, one an eight-yarder and the other a 23-yard scamper. Demps’ eight-yard run opened the scoring and was set up by Cooper’s 68-yard grab.
With 4:40 left in the first quarter, redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey (Lakeland, Fla.) took a 76-yard rush to the house on a one play drive that only took 13 seconds, becoming only the second player in Florida history to own two touchdown runs of 75 or more yards (Neal Anderson, 80 and 76 in 1983 and 1984).
In addition to the offensive charge, Florida’s strong defensive stance Saturday was highlighted by a second-quarter A.J. Toscano interception by junior safety Major Wright (Miramar, Fla.) that halted a Charleston Southern drive. The Gators took advantage of the turnover, marching 84 yards downfield and capping the drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tebow to junior tight end Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn.) that gave UF a 35-0 advantage following the extra point.
The Buccaneers responded and put three points on the board with 5:37 in the first half when junior kicker John Paglia found the uprights for Charleston Southern after a 48 yard, seven-play drive.
Senior athlete Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) didn’t let the CSU field goal slow down the Gators’ offensive efforts after rallying for an 85-yard kick-off return for a touchdown, the first score on a kick return since former Gator Bo Carroll did so in 1999. James’ touchdown brought Florida ahead, 42-3, and marked his first career kick off for a touchdown as he became the second player in Florida history to own both punt and kick off returns for scores.
After entering the locker room ahead 42-3 at the half, a multitude of Gators saw action in the second half as Brantley took over at quarterback, including redshirt freshman wide receiver T.J. Lawrence (Lakeland, Fla.). Lawrence returned the first kick off of his career, a 46-yarder to start the third quarter.
Brantley led the Gators 49 yards downfield on a six-play drive, hooking up with redshirt junior wide receiver Justin Williams (Folkston, Ga.) for a seven-yard score, lengthening the UF lead to 48-3 after Jonathan Phillips missed the extra point.
Redshirt junior running back Emmanuel Moody (Coppell, Texas) lit up the turf for the Orange & Blue in the second half, rushing for a total of 86 yards on nine carries.
At the end of the third quarter, Brantley found redshirt senior wide receiver Cade Holliday (Gainesville, Fla.) in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown, the first of his career that gave Florida a 55-3 advantage.
Florida would seal the game with a seven-yard touchdown rush by freshman Mike Gillislee (DeLand, Fla.) midway through the fourth quarter, resulting in the final margin, 62-3.
The Gators continue a three-game home stand Sept. 12 when Troy University visits Gainesville for a 12:15 match-up. The game will be televised on by ERT/SEC Network.