Saturday November 16, 2002Gators Topple Gamecocks For Fourth Straight Win
Rex Grossman fired four touchdown passes to lead a balanced attack, as the 14th-ranked Florida football team won its fourth straight game, defeating South Carolina, 28-7, Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Gators held up their end of the bargain, defeating South Carolina handily, however, a Georgia victory at Auburn clinched the SEC East for the Bulldogs, as they finished the SEC season with a 7-1 record. The Gators improved to 8-3 overall and finished the SEC season with a 6-2 record and second in the East, despite going a perfect 5-0 against divisional opponents.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Gators opened the scoring midway through the second quarter when Grossman hit Carlos Perez on a 3-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. The pass capped off a 13-play, 69-yard drive, the first of three scoring drives on the day of 10 plays or more, as the Gators dominated the line of scrimmage.
The victory was costly, however, as Perez went on to fracture his right fibula, ending what had become a productive junior season for the native of New Jersey.
With less than a minute remaining in the half, Grossman hit Darrell Carpenter on a 15-yard pass touchdown pass over the middle to push the lead to 14-0 as the teams headed to the locker room.
The Gators received the opening kick in the second half and made a quick push to put the game out of reach, moving 78 yards in 11 plays, capped off by a 12-yard pass from Grossman to O.J. Small for a 21-0 lead.
South Carolina responded with a long drive of their own, as the Gamecocks drove 77 yards on 13 plays, occupying more than six minutes. The drive culminated with Daccus Turman punched the ball in from a yard out.
For the game, the Gator defense was stingy and bent, but did not brake. They surrendered less than 300 yards of total offense for the fifth time in their last seven SEC games and never let the Gamecocks back in the contest.
Kelvin Kight closed out the scoring when he made an acrobatic 27-yard catch in the corner of the end zone, making certain to get a foot in, and Grossman had his fourth touchdown pass of the evening, all to different receivers.
Grossman spread the ball out efficiently and completed 24-of-36 passes for 228 yards, completing passes to nine different receivers.
The Gators finished with over 400 yards of total offense, getting 155 on the ground as well. Earnest Graham led the ground attack with 81 yards on 17 carries.
Florida has its second bye week of the season next weekend, before heading to Tallahassee for the annual showdown with Florida State on Nov. 30.