Wednesday January 2, 2002Football rolls to 56-23 win over MD in Orange Bowl
Taylor Jacobs broke the Orange Bowl receiving record and caught a pair of touchdown passes
Brock Berlin got the start at quarterback for the Gators and promptly led the team to two first quarter touchdowns. He engineered an 83-yard drive on the Gators' first possession with Earnest Graham scoring a two-yard touchdown. Berlin hit Jacobs on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to play in the first quarter as the Gators opened up a 14-0 lead.
Maryland cut the Gator lead in half when Shaun Hill hit Jafar Williams for a 64-yard touchdown pass as the first quarter ended with Florida leading 14-7.
In the second quarter, Berlin threw his second interception of the game when Maryland defensive back Denard Wilson picked off a deflection and ran it back to the Florida three yard line. But the Gators defense stiffened and forced the Terps to settle for a Nick Novack 20-yard field goal. That cut the Gator lead to 14-10.
With 6:03 left in the second quarter, Grossman replaced Berlin at quarterback. All the Heisman Trophy runner-up did was lead the Gators to six consecutive touchdowns. On his first drive, he connected with Jacobs on a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Gators a 21-10 lead with 2:18 to play in the half. Then, with just three seconds before halftime, Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney on a four-yard touchdown to put Florida up 28-10.
Florida outscored Maryland 21-0 in the third quarter as Earnest Graham ran six yards for his second touchdown of the night. Robert Gillespie scored from 11 yards out and Grossman and Gaffney combined on a 33-yard touchdown that extended Florida's lead to 49-10.
Florida's final touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Grossman threw ten yards to Carlos Perez to give the Gators a 56-17 lead. Grossman tied an Orange Bowl record with four touchdown passes.
"Six possessions, six touchdowns. That's unbelievable", said Gator coach Steve Spurrier in his postgame radio interview. "I don't think he threw a real bad pass the whole night. The receivers caught about everything. Taylor was sensational. It was one of Rex's best, certainly".
Berlin completed 11 of 19 for 196 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Grossman finished 20 of 28 for 248 yards and four touchdowns. The Gators set an Orange Bowl record with 659 yards in total offense.
Graham, playing for the first time since injuring his knee against Florida State in November, rushed 16 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns and fumbled once. Spurrier said how Graham goes, so goes the Gators.
"He's played ten games and we've won every one of them, the two he didn't we've lost", said Spurrier. "We all know that you've got to run the ball and Earnest, he can run in there for seven, eight yards which makes it so easy to throw".
Florida ended the season with a 10-2 record and a top five finish. Maryland also ended the season at 10-2.