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Saturday September 2, 2000The Gators win their season opener 40-19

Gainesville, FL

Jesse Palmer threw for three touchdown passes and ran for another.

Jesse Palmer threw three touchdown passes to lead the ninth ranked Florida Gators to a 40-19 win over Ball State. Palmer also scored on a quarterback sneak and Robert Gillespie rushed for 112 yards as the Gators won their 11th straight season opener. Palmer, who completed 21-of-46 passes for 327 yards and no interceptions, opened the game with an eight-yard touchdown pass to tightend Kirk Wells on the game's first drive. He also hit Alex Willis on a nine-yard scoring strike in the second quarter. But his biggest touchdown pass of the night was a 75-yarder to Bo Carroll that closed out the scoring four minutes into the fourth quarter. The big play followed a Gator fumble recovery inside their own 15 yard line. "The coaches did a great job of studying film, trying to hit on their weaknesses", said Carroll. "I wound up being on a linebacker and I was very fortunate to get in a position to score." Florida had it's share of breakdowns. The Gators had a punt blocked, a fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a Ball State touchdown and a safety. "We had alot of sort of bad plays out there tonight", said Gator coach Steve Spurrier. "We didn't look near as sharp as I thought we would and i know our fans thought we would. Maybe Ball State is a little better than we thought." The Gators did sustain a key loss in the game. Florida lost starting middle linebacker Andra Davis to a sprained left knee. He'll have an M-R-I Sunday to determine the severity of the injury. Meanwhile, Ball State suffered its 17th straight loss. The Gators will host Middle Tennessee State at "the Swamp" next Saturday at 6 p.m.
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