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Earnest Graham returned to the Gator lineup and rushed 23 times for 131 yards

Saturday October 27, 2001Football holds off Georgia, 24-10 in Jacksonville

Jacksonville, FL

Earnest Graham returned to the Gator lineup and rushed 23 times for 131 yards

Rex Grossman threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell with 9:12 to play in the fourth quarter to help the sixth ranked Florida Gators overcome four turnovers to beat the 15th ranked Georgia Bulldogs 24-10 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville.

Caldwell's eighth touchdown grab of the season climaxed a six play, 76 yard drive for the only score of the second half as the Gators beat Georgia for the 11th time in 12 years.

Grossman finished with 27 completions in 35 attempts for 407 yards and two touchdowns. He also hit Jabar Gaffney with a 21-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and threw for over 300 yards for the seventh straight game. He also scored on a one yard sneak to put the Gators up 17-10 just before halftime. But Grossman also suffered two interceptions. The Gators hurt themselves with turnovers and penalties. Florida amassed 385 total yards in the first half, but was flagged for 81 yards in penalties and turned the ball over three times.

"It was a funny game", said Gator coach Steve Spurrier in the postgame interview. "We thought we could throw against them and we thought we could run. We did those things pretty well. We messed up alot."

The Gator coach was pleased with the running attack after gaining negative yardage in the last game in their only loss to Auburn. "We just blocked a little better and Earnest (Graham) ran hard. We ran straight at 'em", said Spurrier. Graham, who missed the Auburn game with an ankle injury two weeks ago, returned to gain 131 yards on 23 carries. But he also coughed the football up inside the Georgia five yard line that was recovered by the Bulldogs which snuffed out a third quarter drive with the Gators leading 17-10.

Both Georgia scores - a 42-yard field goal by Billy Bennett and a short touchdown run by Jasper Sanks were setup by Gator turnovers. The Bulldogs hogged the ball in the third quarter, holding it for over 12 minutes to the Gators two. But the Gator defense came through with some big plays, including three stops on 4th down. One of the biggest plays came in the fourth quarter when Lito Sheppard tackled Georgia wide receiver Fred Gibson one yard short of a first down on fourth and 13.

Georgia's freshman quarterback David Greene finished 25 of 42 for 258 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Florida's Jabar Gaffney tied a career-high with nine catches for 143 yards.

"It was a crucial game for us", said Gator quarterback Rex Grossman. "If we don't win this one, alot of our goals are out of the hole. We're all happy. It's a big victory."

The Gators improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC. Georgia dropped to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the SEC. The Gators will host Vanderbilt next Saturday for homecoming. Kickoff is at 12:30 eastern time.

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