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Saturday October 20, 2012Gators Throttle South Carolina, 44-11, in Key SEC East Showdown

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Jeff Driskel threw four touchdown passes and Florida dismantled South Carolina, 44-11, in a key SEC East showdown a the Swamp.  

The win moved the Gators to 7-0 overall, and 6-0 in SEC and in control of their SEC East destiny, while South Carolina dropped its second straight game, falling to 6-2 on the year and 5-2 in SEC play.

Driskel threw two touchdown passes to Jordan Reed and one each to Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond, while Omarius Hines and Matt Jones had touchdown runs. Adam Yates hit three field goals for South Carolina.

Florida was opportunistic, turning three first half South Carolina turnovers into 21 points.

The Gators can now clinch the SEC East with a victory over Georgia next Saturday in Jacksonville.

Florida won the toss but deferred to the second half and South Carolina received. On the game’s first play disaster struck for the Gamecocks when Loucheiz Purifoy stripped quarterback Connor Shaw of the ball and Lerentee McCray recovered at the Gamecocks’ 1-yard line.

Facing a third-and-goal, Driskel hit Reed for a 3-yard touchdown pass and the Gators grabbed a 7-0 lead just :59 into the game.

South Carolina responded with a 15-play, 61-yard drive, taking nearly half of the first quarter (6:58) to get back into the game – with some help from the Gators on a pair of personal fouls. After stopping South Carolina and forcing a punt, the Gators were flagged with a rare rougher the snapper penalty. Instead of Florida taking over at its own 46 after a bad punt, the Gamecocks maintained possession and marched all the way to the Gators’ 18-yard line, as Shaw hit 4-of-7 passes on the drive. Yates capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal with 7:03 left in the first quarter.

The Gators looked like the added to that lead but another ill-timed penalty negated a 41-yard touchdown pass from Driskel to Hines. Following a short punt, the Gators started their fourth drive of the game at the South Carolina 41-yard line and Driskel immediately went down field to an open Hines, who made a sensational grab for what appeared to be a touchdown. A chop block was called on Mike Gillislee, however, and the score was negated.

South Carolina came back with another long drive early in the second quarter, marching 52 yards all the way to the Florida 28-yard line where Yates set up for his second field goal attempt of the game. Trouble with the hold led to a low kick and Sharrif Floyd got a piece of the ball, blocking the kick and keeping the game at 7-3.

Following a Florida punt, the Gators were once again opportunistic, as Trey Burton stripped Ace Sanders on the return, and Burton scooped up the loose ball setting the Gators up at the South Carolina 29. Facing a 3rd and 4, Burton then lined up in the Wildcat and ran for a critical first down to the Gamecocks 17. Moments later facing a 3rd and 6, Driskel hit Dunbar, who shook a tackle and took it in from 13 yards out for a 14-3 lead.

On the ensuing kick Solomon Patton stripped Damiere Byrd and Chris Johnson recovered for the Gators and returned it to the South Carolina 1-yard line. Moments later Driskel hit Reed for his third touchdown pass of the game, this time a 1-yarder with 2:02 left in the half.

As the Gators tried to keep their 18-point lead heading into the locker room, penalties once again plagued the Gators. Jelani Jenkins intercepted Shaw with the Gamecocks driving, however, the Gators lined up offsides and instead of getting the ball late and killing the clock, the Gamecocks lined up for a 51-yard field goal and Yates connected as the clock expired in the first half.

Florida led at the half despite having just 29 yards of total offense, as two of three touchdown drives started at the 1-yard line and the third at South Carolina’s 29.

As the second half started, however, Florida’s offense finally clicked and the Gators put together their best drive of the game, marching 59 yards on 10 plays, mixing Burton in the Wildcat with some creative play-calling. Driskel hit Hammond on a 10-yard pass on third-and-eight to kick start the drive. Solomon Patton then took a jet sweep14 yards down to the South Carolina 30. Facing a third-and-three Burton delivered a 5-yard run out of the Wildcat. After a 12-yard run by Driskel gave the Gators a first-and-goal at the South Carolina 6-yard line, Hines capped the drive with his 6-yard touchdown run.

The extra point attempt by Caleb Sturgis was blocked, however, and Victor Hampton of South Carolina returned it for two points, making it a 27-8 game.  

Florida added to the scoring on its second possession of the third quarter as a 39-yard pass from Driskel to Reed set up a 42-yard field goal from Sturgis to give the Gators a 30-8 lead. The Gators marched 36 yards on six plays.

The Gators made it 37-8 late in the third quarter when Driskel hit Hammond for a 6-yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the night. A short punt set the Gators up at the South Carolina 44-yard line. Driskel found Dunbar for a 16-yard gain on third-and-six to key the drive.

Yates connected on his third field goal of the game with 7:17 remaining, a 30-yarder that made it 37-11, after South Carolina drove all the way to the Florida 12-yard line before stalling.

South Carolina attempted an onside kick but Reed scooped it up and returned it 35 yards to the Gamecocks 11-yard line. Three plays later Matt Jones scored his first rushing touchdown of his career, a 1-yard score to make it 44-11 and close out the scoring.

Driskel finished 11-of-16 passing for 93 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.  Gillislee finished with 37 yards on 19 carries.

After finishing with 29 yards of offense in the first half, Florida had 154 yards in the second half, finishing with 183 (94 passing, 84 rushing). The Gators held South Carolina to 191 yards and forced four turnovers.  South Carolina quarterbacks combined to finish 17-of-40 passing for 155 yards.

Next up, the showdown in Jacksonville between the Gators and Georgia next Saturday at EverBank Field. Florida has won three of the last four meetings, however, Georgia took last year’s match-up.

 

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