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Chris Leak threw 2 TD passes in the Gator victory.

Saturday September 27, 2003Football Posts Largest Road Come-From-Behind Win

Lexington, Ky.

Chris Leak threw 2 TD passes in the Gator victory.

Ran Carthon’s one-yard touchdown run with 3:15 remaining in the contest completed a Florida comeback as the No. 25 Gators, who trailed by 18 points in the fourth quarter, rebounded to claim a 24-21 victory against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium before a crowd of 70,579. The 18-point deficit was the largest the Gators have overcome on the road in school history.

Florida’s Chris Leak, just the fourth true freshman quarterback in school history to start a game, spearheaded the Gator offense by completing 20-of-35 passes for 268 yards with two touchdown passes. His yardage total was nearly three times more than the previous best by a true freshman quarterback making their first start. Wide receiver Carlos Perez also had a stellar day by hauling in five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

The Wildcats (2-3 overall, 0-2 SEC), who have now lost 17 straight to the Gators (3-2, 1-1), amassed a 21-3 lead after Arliss Beach scored his third touchdown of the day on a two-yard run with 3:23 left in the third quarter.

Florida responded with its first touchdown of the afternoon when Leak led a nine-play, 83-yard drive, which culminated in a three-yard TD pass to Perez with 14:55 remaining in the game.

After the two teams traded possessions, Keiwan Ratliff gave the Gators their best field position of the day when he returned a punt 25 yards to the Kentucky 28-yard line with 6:11 remaining. On fourth and three from the Wildcat 10, Leak again found Perez in the end zone with 4:46 left in the contest. The extra point from kicker Matt Leach made the score 21-16 Kentucky.

On Kentucky’s ensuing possession, Florida cornerback Johnny Lamar picked off Wildcat quarterback Jared Lorenzen and returned the ball 36 yards to the Kentucky 1. The interception was the eighth for the Gators this season after Florida intercepted seven in all of 2002. Carthon then scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later with 3:15 left in the contest.

Kentucky then drove down to the Florida 31, but Wildcat kicker Taylor Begley missed a 49-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 44 seconds remaining.

Leach provided the only scoring in the first half for Florida when he connected on a 42-yard field goal to cut Kentucky’s lead to 14-3 with 5:49 left in the second.

The previous largest come-from behind win on the road for Florida came in 1993 when the Gators overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat South Carolina 37-26

The Gators return to the gridiron on Oct. 4 when Florida hosts Ole Miss for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot.

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