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Saturday September 24, 2005Offense Keys Football's 49-28 Win At Kentucky

Gainesville, FL

The fifth-ranked Gator football team improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference with a 49-28 victory at Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. In the first half, junior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was 21-for-26 for 298 yards and four touchdowns as Florida raced out to a 49-7 lead at the break.


Leak finished 25-for-32 for 319 yards, his sixth career 300-yard effort, and has not thrown an interception in 114 attempts this season. UF's offense gained a season-high 537 yards, 350 yards through the air and 187 yards on the ground in defeating the Wildcats (1-3/0-1 SEC) for the 19th straight time.


Junior running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored four times on the day, three times rushing and once receiving, to become the first player in school history to have four touchdowns in a game twice in his career. He previously accomplished the feat in a 63-3 win over Florida A&M on Sept. 13, 2003.


Kentucky drew first blood after blocking a punt by junior punter Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.) and taking over at Floridaís 16 yard-line. A one-yard run by sophomore tailback Rafael Little put the Wildcats on the board 2:46 into the game. However, the Gators scored touchdowns on their next seven possessions to assume a commanding 49-7 lead.


After junior Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards to the 30-yard line, Florida put together a nine-play, 70-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. Facing third down and 10, Leak found junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) for 36 yards down to Kentucky's 34-yard line. Two plays later, Wynn converted another third down with a 12-yard rush into the red zone. On third down and eight, Leak hooked up with Wynn from 16 yards out to put the Gators on the board.


Forcing the Wildcats three-and-out on its next possession, Florida used a 12-play, 87-yard drive to seize the advantage. Leak was a perfect 6-for-6 on the drive for 60 yards and put the Gators in front with an 11-yard scoring toss to Jackson.


A 35-point outburst in the second quarter by UF, featuring three rushing touchdowns by Wynn, put Florida in control. A 50-yard pass from Leak to Cornelius down to the 11-yard line set up Wynn's three-yard rush into the end zone, resulting in a 21-7 lead for the Gators. On Kentucky's next offensive play, junior Earl Everett (Webster, Fla.) notched his first career interception on a pass by Andre' Woodson to give UF possession at the Wildcats' 29-yard line. Seven plays later, Wynn scored from one yard for a 28-7 cushion.


With 4:57 remaining in the half, the Gators took a 35-7 lead when Leak engineered an eight-play, 67-yard drive, ending with a 16-yard reception by senior wide receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.). The catch resulted in Bakerís first touchdown of the season.


Everett's second interception of the game with 3:41 left in the second quarter put the Gator offense back in business at its own 42-yard line. Following three consecutive receptions by Cornelius (20 yards), Jackson (21 yards) and junior Kenneth Tookes (Jacksonville, Fla.) (four yards), Leak threw his fourth touchdown of the game with a six-yard completion to Jackson to move Florida ahead, 42-7.


With 2:01 remaining in the half, Florida junior cornerback Demetrice Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.) forced a Kentucky fumble that sophomore linebacker Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) recovered at UK's 30-yard line. Freshman quarterback Josh Portis (Woodland Hills, Calif.) charged for 29 yards on the first play and Wynn finished the 17-second drive with a one-yard carry for his fourth and final touchdown of the night and a 49-7 lead.


Kentucky narrowed the deficit to 49-28 with three second-half touchdowns, including a pair of touchdown runs by Curtis Pulley from two and 18 yards, respectively.


The combination of Leak (25-of-32, 319 yards, four TD) and Portis (3-of-4, 31 yards) completed passes to 10 different receivers. The duo of Cornelius (career-highs with eight receptions and 138 yards) and Jackson (nine catches for 105 yards, two TD) became the first Gator duo to go over 100 yards in the same game since Reche Caldwell (115) and Jabar Gaffney (101) did so against Tennessee on Dec. 1, 2001.


For the second time this season, Portis led UF's rushing attack with 59 yards on eight carries. Wynn carried the ball 10 times for 40 yards and scored three times on the ground. Junior Skyler Thornton (LaGrange, Ga.) totaled 36 yards on seven carries for a 5.1 average. Two-time SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, junior kicker Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.), was 7-for-7 on PATs. UF was 12-of-16 on third-down conversions and controlled the ball for 34:44.


Defensively for the Gators, sophomore safety Tony Joiner (Haines City, Fla.) led the team with six tackles and had his first career interception, a ball that was brought back 27 yards. Junior linebacker Brian Crum (Woodbine, Ga.) followed with five tackles and senior Jeremy Mincey (Statesboro, Ga.) had a pair of tackles for loss.


Woodson finished 11-of-27 for 124 yards and three interceptions for the Wildcats, with Pulley 4-for-6 with 38 yards. Little had 19 rushes for 77 yards and one touchdown, while Pulley scored twice on his seven carries that gained 32 yards. Kentucky had 69 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with 295 yards in the contest.


The Gators continue SEC play next Saturday against Alabama (4-0/2-0 SEC) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will air on CBS Sports at 3:30 p.m.




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