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Rex Grossman threw for a career-high 375 yards.

Saturday September 1, 2001Gator Football opens with 49-14 win over Marshall

Gainesville, FL

Rex Grossman threw for a career-high 375 yards.

Rex Grossman threw three touchdown passes and Earnest Graham ran for another three as the top ranked Florida Gators opened the season with a 49-14 win over Marshall.

Grossman completed 20 of 30 passes and threw for a career-high 375 yards while firing touchdown passes to Robert Gillespie, Reche Caldwell and Taylor Jacobs. "We executed well in the first half and had some big plays", said Grossman during a postgame interview. "Going into this game, I tried to make as few mistakes as possible and I think we did that for the most part".

Grossman led the Gators to a 35-0 halftime lead and played well into the fourth quarter before giving way to backup Brock Berlin, who hooked up with Carlos Perez on a 26-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to end the scoring.

The Gators rushed for 111 yards and threw for 430 to amass 541 yards on offense. Defensively, the Gators confused Marshall's junior quarterback Byron Leftwich with a six defensive back alignment. He completed 27 of 43 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown and was sacked five times. Alex Brown and Andra Davis had two sacks each. It was Davis' first game since he suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year's season opener.

"We wanted to establish the dominance early instead of sitting back and waiting for the SEC teams. We know we can play," said Davis. But he wasn't 100% satisfied with the defensive effort. "We've got to finish. We were getting three-and-outs, but then we let them have 11-play drives."

Gator coach Steve Spurrier was mostly pleased with his team's effort, but the running game, he says, has to get better. "If we had to line up and run the ball up and down the field, like most teams try to do, we'd be like most teams."

The game was played before a record crowd for a home opener - 85,445.

The Gators' next game will be Saturday September 8th when Louisiana-Monroe comes into the Swamp. Game time is set for 6 p.m. eastern time.

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