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Saturday November 26, 2005Football Stops Florida State, 34-7

Gainesville, FL

Behind a tenacious defense that created four turnovers and a pair of touchdown passes by junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.), the No. 19 Gator football team handed No. 21 Florida State a 34-7 loss in front of 90,669 fans at The Swamp on Saturday. In compiling a perfect 6-0 mark at home, Florida (8-3) defeated the trio of Florida State (7-4), Georgia and Tennessee for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 1995. UF did not trail at any point against the Seminoles, Bulldogs or Volunteers for the first time.

 

The Gators opened the scoring on their initial play of the second quarter, when Leak hooked up with junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) from eight-yards out as Florida marched 71 yards on nine plays to draw first blood. During the drive, Leak found Jackson for 15 yards and later converted a third down and 13 to junior Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) for 23 yards and a fresh set of downs at the FSU 35-yard line. Maintaining momentum, junior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) darted 13 yards on the next play, and Jackson made a nine-yard grab to place the Gators at the 12-yard line. Three plays later, Jackson tallied his team-leading 11th touchdown and junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead for the hosts.

 

With 9:48 remaining in the first half, junior defensive tackle Marcus Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) deflected a 44-yard field-goal attempt by the ĎNoles for the second blocked kick of his career. Junior Reggie Lewis (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked up the ball and dashed 52 yards into the end zone. A PAT by Hetland put the Orange and Blue up, 14-0.††

 

The Gators increased their lead to 17-0 with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by Hetland. Facing second down and 17, Leak delivered consecutive 10- and nine-yard completions to Jackson for a first down at the Gatorsí 33-yard line. Leak later carried 11 yards and then found Cornelius for nine yards to move the offense into FSU territory at the 28-yard line. Facing a fourth down and eight, the Gators opted for a field goal by Hetland that completed a 14-play, 54-yard scoring drive and used 5:57 of the clock.

 

Florida added three more points at the outset of the fourth quarter following a 26-yard interception return by senior Jarvis Herring (Live Oak, Fla.) that set up a field goal and resulted in a 20-0 lead. During the 10-play, 56-yard drive, Wynn carried 13 yards and Leak hooked up with Jackson for another 13-yard gain down to the FSU 22-yard line. Hetland connected from 34 yards out to end a drive that took 4:58 off the clock.

 

After the ensuing kickoff to the Seminoles, junior Demetrice Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.) forced a fumble that sophomore linebacker Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) corralled for his SEC-leading seventh fumble recovery of the season. On the very next play, Leak threw a 15-yard strike into the right corner of the end zone to Baker and the extra point by Hetland resulted in a 27-0 lead for the home team.

 

The Gators took advantage of another turnover on FSUís next possession, when Herring forced a fumble by sophomore wide receiver DeíCody Fagg that freshman Avery Atkins (Daytona Beach, Fla.) recovered to bring the Gator offense back on the field at FSU's 44-yard line. Following a 29-yard bomb from Leak to Jackson down to the two-yard line, freshman Markus Manson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) made the final dive into the end zone for his second-career touchdown. Hetlandís PAT ended the 43-yard, six-play drive to provide the Gators with a 34-0 cushion.

 

The Seminoles averted the shutout with 6:35 left in the game on a five-yard scoring toss from Weatherford to Fagg. Florida State covered 85 yards in 10 plays, highlighted by a 45-yard reception by freshman Greg Carr down to the Gators' five-yard line.

 

Leak finished 19-for-28 for 211 yards and two touchdowns and one interception, while Jackson had nine receptions for 97 yards and one score. Manson led the Gators with 39 yards rushing on 11 carries. Weatherford was 24-for-42 for 285 yards and one touchdown, with two picks, while senior Willie Reed had a team-high seven receptions for 66 yards. Senior Leon Washington totaled 46 yards on 11 carries. FSU held a 334-284 edge in total offense but committed twice as many turnovers as the Gators.

 

Defensively, Herring led the Gators with nine tackles, including two for loss and a 26-yard interception return. Jarvis Moss (Denton, Texas) had five tackles, three for a total loss of 16 yards, and recorded 1.5 sacks. Atkins had a fumble recovery and notched the first interception of his career. The Gators sacked Weatherford five times.

 

-UF-

 

 

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