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Saturday October 18, 2003Football Fends Off Rally, Beats Arkansas 33-28

Fayetteville, Ark.

Freshman Chris Leak threw for a career high 269 yards and senior Keiwan Ratliff intercepted three passes and returned one for a touchdown as Florida fended off a late rally by No. 11 Arkansas to defeat the Razorbacks, 33-28, before a crowd of 73,934 at Razorback Stadium.

Florida (5-3 overall, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won its second straight contest on the road against a top 15 opponent after disposing of LSU last week and has won three of its last four games.

Arkansas (4-2,1-2) scored 21 fourth quarter points to make the game close late, but after the Razorbacks scored with 3:11 left to narrow the gap to 33-28, Florida recovered an onside kick and was able to run the clock out to seal the victory.

After Arkansas scored the opening touchdown of the game late in the first quarter, Florida reeled off 33 straight points. Matt Leach put the Gators on the scoreboard first when he connected on a 33-yard field goal with 11:42 left in the second to make the score 7-3 in favor of the Razorbacks.

Ciatrick Fason, who rushed for a career-high 98 yards on 11 carries, scored on Florida’s next possession on a 33-yard touchdown strike from Leak as the Gators pulled ahead with 6:59 remaining in the second.

Less than two minutes later, Leach hit a 39-yard field goal to give Florida a 13-7 advantage at the half. The Gators then scored just 19 seconds into the third quarter when Fason broke off a 75-yard touchdown run.

DeShawn Wynn gave Florida a 26-7 lead when he scored on a 17-yard run with 2:30 left in the third before Ratliff capped the Gators’ scoring when he returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown with 8:46 left in the game to put Florida up 33-7 before Arkansas’ failed comeback bid.

Florida returns to action Nov. 1 when the Gators travel to Jacksonville, Fla. to take on Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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