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Saturday November 12, 2005Football Falls At South Carolina, 30-22

Columbia, SC

The 12th-ranked Florida football team suffered a 30-22 loss to South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. With their fifth-straight victory, the Gamecocks improved to 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Gators' (7-3/5-3 SEC) 14-game winning streak versus USC was snapped.


South Carolina opened the scoring 2:34 into the game on a five-yard touchdown run by freshman Mike Davis to take a 7-0 lead. On Florida's initial possession, junior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was intercepted by senior defensive tackle, Chris Tucker, who returned the ball 48 yards down to UF's five-yard line to set up the TD.


The Gators answered with a 30-yard field goal by junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) to narrow the gap to 7-3 with 8:56 remaining in the opening quarter. Florida ran nine plays and gained 67 yards during the drive, including three receptions for 28 yards by junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.). Jackson has now caught at least one pass in 22-straight games.


The Gamecocks seized a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter on a one-yard rush by freshman Daccus Turman that completed a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive. After forcing the Gators three-and-out, USC built a 20-3 advantage on a three-yard run by Turman with 7:50 left until halftime. However, junior Marcus Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) blocked the ensuing point-after attempt and junior cornerback Demetrice Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.) grabbed the ball and sprinted into the end zone to make the score 20-5. It was the first time in school history that Florida had returned a blocked PAT for two points.


Maintaining their momentum, the Gators marched 89 yards on nine plays and used a 31-yard touchdown hook-up between Leak and Jackson to pull within 20-12. The scoring reception was Jackson's team-best eighth of the season.


On its opening drive of the second half, Florida moved the ball 80 yards on 12 plays and used an 11-yard pass from Leak to Billy Latsko (Gainesville, Fla.) and an extra-point from Hetland to trail the Gamecocks, 20-19.


South Carolina countered with a four-play, 78-yard scoring drive that was capped by Davis' second rushing touchdown of the afternoon to take a 27-19 lead with 5:59 left in the third quarter. The key play of the drive was a 64-yard pass from sophomore Blake Mitchell to freshman Sidney Rice down to the one-yard line. A 37-yard field goal by senior Josh Brown with 9:04 left in the fourth later increased USC's lead to 30-19.


Hetland connected on a 43-yard field goal with 2:51 remaining in the game to bring the Gators to within 30-22. The drive consumed 6:13 and totaled 55 yards on 17 plays. Soon after, the Gamecocks recovered UF's on-side kick attempt and were able to run the clock down to 60 seconds before a fourth-down penalty on the visitors enabled USC to keep the ball and finish the game.


In the defeat, UF held the advantage in the statistical categories of total offense (359-246), rushing (149-120), passing (210-126) and time of possession (34:10-25:50). Leak finished 18-of-31 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while Jackson matched his career high with 10 receptions for 104 yards. On the ground, Wynn gained 73 yards on 11 carries, with freshman Markus Manson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) contributing 57 yards on 13 attempts. For South Carolina, Mitchell was 7-of-17 for 126 yards, Rice made five catches for 112 yards, Davis totaled 88 yards on 22 carries and Turman had six attempts for 31 yards. Each running back found the end zone twice.


Florida will conclude its regular season on Nov. 26, when in-state rival Florida State (7-3/5-3 ACC) visits The Swamp. The contest will be carried live by CBS Sports starting at 3:30 p.m.






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