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Saturday October 13, 2001Top ranked Gators taste defeat at Auburn 23-20

Gainesville, FL

Reche Caldwell set a career-high with 9 catches for 128 yards

Damon Duval, the kicker with a penchant for game-winning kicks, booted a 44-yard field with ten seconds left in the game and the unranked Auburn Tigers upset the top ranked Florida Gators 23-20 on a windy night in Auburn, Alabama. Duval also beat Mississippi State and Vanderbilt with field goals in Auburn's previous two games.

By virtue of the victory, the Tigers, who came in as big underdogs, are now the only unbeaten team in the SEC.

Backup quarterback Daniel Cobb gave the Tigers a big boost. He played most of the game, rebounding from a 4-of-15 start to throw for 152 yards. Cobb finished 11-of-23 and didn't have an interception. He also scored on a 1-yard sneak.

But it was Duval, who was able to drill the game-winning kick into a stiff wind, who received praise from Gator coach Steve Spurrier.

"Their kicker Duval is a good kicker," said Spurrier. "He nailed everyone of 'em. You've got to give that kid credit. He's good and they know how to snap and place it perfectly."

Spurrier's special teams had major difficulties in the game. Punter Matt Leach had trouble with bad snaps from center on two occasions. The second bad snap resulted in Auburn taking over at the Gator four yard line. That led to Cobb's touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave Auburn a 20-13 lead.

Florida tied the game up when Rex Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney on an 80 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Grossman also hit Reche Caldwell with a 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to put Florida ahead 13-10. Caldwell had a career-best nine catches for 128 yards. Gaffney also went over the 100 yard mark in receiving yards.

Grossman was 25-of-42 for 364 yards and two touchdowns, but he suffered four interceptions.

Gaffney said that the Gators didn't match Auburn's intensity. "We came out a little flat, today," said Gaffney. "We could never get into a rhythm. Our hats off to Auburn. They played a great game."

Defensive end Alex Brown took the loss in stride. "We've got to learn from it," said Brown. "We're not out of it (the SEC East title picture). We just need to learn from it and get better."

The Gators sorely missed starting tailback Earnest Graham who was out with a sprained ankle. Auburn held Florida to minus 36 yards rushing.

The Gators are off next week. They play Georgia on Saturday October 27th at Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville.

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