Saturday September 25, 2004Fason Leads Gators over Wildcats
Junior Ciatrick Fason scored two touchdowns and became the first Gator running back to eclipse 200 yards in a single game since 1989 as Florida picked up its first Southeastern Conference victory of the season with a 20-3 triumph over Kentucky at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Fason had a career-high 31 carries and accumulated 210 yards on the ground for UF's highest rush total since Emmitt Smith totaled a school-record 316 yards in a 27-21 win over New Mexico on Oct. 21, 1989. Fason also caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown to finish with 253 all-purpose yards. In defeating the Wildcats (1-2/0-1 SEC) for the 18th consecutive time, Florida improved to 2-1 overall and evened its league mark at 1-1.
Following an interception by sophomore Chris Leak on the Gators' opening drive, the Wildcats marched 56 yards on 14 plays and picked up four first downs to seize a 3-0 advantage. Kentucky opened the scoring with 6:06 left to play in the first quarter, as junior Taylor Begley booted a career-long 51-yard field goal. However, the Florida defense pitched a shutout the rest of the afternoon, yielding the 'Cats only 151 yards of offense the remainder of the game.
On their third drive of the game, the Gators tied the contest at 3-3 on a 40-yard field goal by junior Matt Leach. Between his rushing and receiving, Fason accounted 38 of UF's 64 yards on the 10-play drive.
The Gators threatened to pad their lead late in the second quarter, driving 71 yards down to the UK 4-yard-line. However, junior Muhammad Abdullah intercepted a pass from Leak in the end zone with 25 seconds remaining in the half.
After Florida's defense forced Kentucky three-and-out following the intermission, Leak hooked up with sophomore Chad Jackson for a 65-yard pass play all the way down to the Wildcat seven-yard line. Jackson's third reception of the season, giving him a total of 185 yards, enabled him to become the first Gator receiver to have two plays exceeding 65 yards in a campaign since Darrell Jackson accomplished the feat in 1999. Chad Jackson had previously caught an 81-yard touchdown pass at Tennessee last week. Leach connected on a 21-yard field goal to put the Gators ahead by a 13-3 count.
A 43-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter by junior Vernell Brown to the Wildcat 34-yard line set up UF's final scoring drive of the afternoon. A 12-yard run by sophomore Skyler Thornton gave the Gators a first down at the UK 11. Two plays later, Leak found Fason for a seven-yard scoring play to finalize the margin at 20-3 with 4:08 remaining.
Leak notched career highs in completions (25) and pass attempts (43) on his way to 261 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Andre Caldwell established personal bests in receptions (eight) and passing yards (84), while six different Gators had multiple receptions. Courtesy of a season-high 83 plays, Florida rolled up 523 yards of offense. For Kentucky, Boyd was 17-of-35 for 134 yards and had one interception. He also led the Wildcats with 28 yards on 14 carries. Junior Glenn Holt caught seven passes for 52 yards.
The staunch Florida defense has surrendered one rushing touchdown in the last 13 quarters and has held all three of its opponents, Eastern Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky, scoreless during the third quarter. UF will continue its homestand by welcoming Western Division rival Arkansas to Gainesville for a noon kickoff next Saturday, Oct. 2. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.