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Senior Solomon Patton leads the Gators with five touchdowns.

Thursday October 31, 2013Patton Circled His Final Florida-Georgia Game on Calendar a Long Time Ago

Senior Solomon Patton leads the Gators with five touchdowns.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The play happened midway into the first quarter.

The No 2-ranked Gators faced fourth-and-1 from Georgia's 36 when quarterback Jeff Driskel took the snap, turned quickly to his right and handed the ball to receiver Solomon Patton on a jet sweep.

It was Patton's last play of the 2012 season.

Solomon Patton

The run also failed to produce a first down and seemed to hint that it was not going to be the Gators' day in last year's 17-9 loss to the Bulldogs.

But before officials could measure for a first down, Florida's training staff spent several minutes attending to a crumpled Patton, who was twisted and tossed awkwardly to the ground on a tackle by Georgia strong safety Shawn Williams.

At 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds, Patton was no match for the 215-pound Williams.

Final diagnosis: a season-ending broken left arm for Patton.

"I’ll tell you, that hurt me because, I mean, he was just starting to come on and that particular play, it was kind of such a weird hit that he didn’t get hit directly," Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "He didn’t fall on his arm. And that was kind of a play we put in figuring he could get around the edge and we kind of had for him."

As the Gators evolved in Pease's first season at UF, Patton had become a key part of the offense. Not as a pass receiver but as a threat in the misdirection run game.

Patton had rushed for 140 yards on 13 carries prior to his final run of his season.

A year later Patton is healthy and has developed into Florida's most dangerous weapon.

He spent the offseason adding about 12 pounds to his frame and honing his route-running skills. In his first three seasons, Patton caught eight passes for 79 yards and no touchdowns.

A senior from Mobile, Ala., Patton has 28 catches for a team-high 426 yards and four touchdowns. Patton remains a threat in the running game with nine carries for 56 yards (6.2 average).

He is eager to return to EverBank Field on Saturday for his final Florida-Georgia game.

"Oh yeah, I've definitely been waiting on this game," Patton said. "I had it circled since last year. This is like the main game that I've been waiting on all year."

The Gators have lost back-to-back games to Georgia and if they are to snap that streak, Patton likely will have an important role. He has been prominent in three of Florida's four wins and became the first UF wide receiver in four years to catch two touchdown passes in a game in a 31-10 win over Arkansas.

Patton also had the Gators' biggest play in their 36-17 loss at Missouri on Oct. 19, returning the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

Patton's breakout season has helped soothe some of the disappointment over the way he finished last year.

"I mean, I felt bad about it because he meant a lot to us of what we could do at that time,'' Pease said. "So, you know, obviously he’s come through it full circle, and the season he’s having now, good for him, because we need him."

Patton has scored a team-leading five touchdowns, ranks third in the SEC in kickoff returns (28.9-yard average) and seventh in all-purpose yards per game (118.4).

Despite the uphill climb the Gators face to win the SEC East -- they must win out and Missouri must lose two more games -- Patton is confident he can end his senior season much better than he did his junior one.

"Everybody [has] got to do their individual job,'' he said. "I think all together, everybody is on the same page and we'll be fine."


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