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Saturday November 15, 2003Fason Leads Florida In Win Against South Carolina

Columbia, S.C.

Ciatrick Fason rushed for a career-high 190 yards, while No. 15 Florida used a 17-point third quarter to overcome an early deficit and defeat South Carolina for the 13th consecutive time by a score of 24-22 Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium before a crowd of 81,523.

The Gators (8-3 overall, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) scored 10 points in a span of one minute late in the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal from Matt Leach and a 10-yard touchdown run by DeShawn Wynn to go ahead 24-16 before the defense stopped South Carolina (5-6, 2-6) on a two-point conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter and held the Gamecocks scoreless on two possessions preserve the victory.

Florida’s defense held South Carolina to just 323 yards of total offense on 74 plays, including a mere 131 yards passing, en route to winning the Gators’ fifth straight game. Florida also piled up 243 yards rushing – the second most for Florida this season. Fason’s 190 yards rank as the 10th-most in a game in Florida history, while he became the first Gator to hit the 190-yard mark since Errict Rhett ran for 193 in 1992 against Kentucky.

The Gamecocks took an early lead when Florida quarterback Chris Leak was sacked in the end zone on the Gators’ opening possession of the game. South Carolina scored on the next possession on a one-yard run by Cory Boyd to give the Gamecocks a 9-0 lead with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

Florida narrowed the gap to 9-7 when Leak notched the second rushing touchdown of his career on a nine-yard run with 3:08 left in the second.

South Carolina answered when Chavez Donnings returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the half to extend the Gamecocks’ lead to 16-7 at the break.

Florida pulled within two on its opening possession of the second half as Leak found Ben Troupe on a seven-yard pass to cap an eight-play, 80-yard drive and bring the score to 16-14 with 10:53 remaining in the third.

Leach then connected on a 20-yard field goal with 2:01 left in the third to give Florida its first lead of the game. The Gators recovered a Donnings fumble on South Carolina’s next possession before Wynn scored to bring Florida’s advantage to 24-16.

The Gamecocks added a touchdown with 10:04 left in the fourth on a four-yard run by Dondrial Pinkins, but Florida’s defense stopped Pinkins on the two-point conversion attempt and held South Carolina in check on its final two possessions of the game to preserve the victory.

Florida has a bye week before returning to the field Nov. 29 against in-state rival Florida State. The game is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and will be broadcast by CBS.

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