2005 Florida Gators football team: Wikis

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2005 Florida Gators football
Script ``Gators``.png
Outback Bowl, W 31-24 vs. Iowa
Conference Southeastern Conference Eastern Division
Ranking
Coaches #16
AP #12
2005 record 9-3 (5-3 SEC)
Head coach Urban Meyer
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen
Offensive scheme Spread Option
Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong
Greg Mattison
Base defense 4-3

Home stadium

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Seasons
« 2004 2006 »

The 2005 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida in the 2005 college football season. This was the team's first season under head coach Urban Meyer. They played their home games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Contents

Pre-season

The 2005 season would open with high expectations of new head coach Urban Meyer. Fourteen starters, seven from offense and seven from defense, would return for the 2005 season. The Gators would open the season in Gainesville against Wyoming from the Mountain West Conference. This year would also be the first time former Gator coach Steve Spurrier would coach against his alma mater.

Schedule

Date Time Rank# (Rank#)Opponent Result Stadium · City Coverage
September 3, 2005* 6:00 PM #11 Wyoming W 32-14 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL PPV
September 10, 2005* 6:00 PM #10 Louisiana Tech W 41-3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL PPV
September 17, 2005 8:00 PM #7 #4 Tennessee W 16-7 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL CBS
September 24, 2005 3:30 PM #5 @ Kentucky W 49-28 Commonwealth Stadium · Lexington, KY CBS
October 1, 2005 3:30 PM #5 @ #16 Alabama L 31-3 Bryant-Denny Stadium · Tuscaloosa, AL CBS
October 8, 2005 12:30 PM #15 Mississippi State W 35-9 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL JP
October 15, 2005 3:30 PM #13 @ #8 LSU L 21-17 Tiger Stadium · Baton Rouge, LA CBS
October 29, 2005 3:30 PM #18 #4 Georgia W 14-10 ALLTEL Stadium · Jacksonville, FL CBS
November 5, 2005 7:15 PM #15 Vanderbilt W 49-42 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL ESPN2
November 12, 2005 12:30 PM #12 @ South Carolina L 30-22 Williams-Brice Stadium · Columbia, SC JP
November 26, 2005* 3:30 PM #19 #21 Florida State W 34-7 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium · Gainesville, FL CBS
January 2, 2006* 11:00 AM #18 #25 Iowa W 31-24 Raymond James Stadium · Tampa, FL ESPN
*Non-Conference Game Homecoming #Rankings from Coaches Poll released prior to game. All times are Eastern Time (UTC-5).

Game Notes

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Wyoming

1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 0 0 7 7 14
Gators 7 10 9 6 32

Before a record-breaking crowd of 90,707 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night, the 10th-ranked Gator football team notched a 32-14 triumph over Wyoming in the Florida head coaching debut of Urban Meyer. The victory was UF's 16th straight season and home-opening win, the longest streak in the Southeastern Conference.

Junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) set a school record with 17 consecutive completions, eclipsing the previous mark of 16 set by Steve Spurrier during the 1966 campaign. Leak registered his fifth career 300-yard passing game by finishing with 320 yards, on a career-high 26 completions in 34 attempts. He fired three touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.), who became the eighth Gator to score four times in a game when he rushed for a TD in the fourth quarter.

Florida opened the scoring on a 26-yard bullet from Leak to Jackson with 0:21 left in the first quarter. Jackson accounted for 49 of the 64 yards on the drive, and junior kicker Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) tacked on the extra point on the first kick of his career to put the Gators on the board, 7-0. The drive consisted of six plays and lasted 3:24.

In the second quarter, senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) returned a Wyoming punt 22 yards to the Cowboys' 41-yard line to give the Gators prime field position. Facing third-down and seven yards, Leak found Jackson for 11 yards down to the 27-yard line. Later facing another third down at the 12-yard line, Leak ran a quarterback draw that gained five yards for another UF first down. On the next play, Leak found Jackson from seven yards out on a crossing pattern that resulted in a 14-0 lead for the hosts with 8:47 remaining in the half. Florida used nine plays and 4:39 of the clock to hit pay-dirt.

With the Gators pinned at their own 16 yard-line late in the second quarter, Leak launched a 63-yard bomb to junior Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.) down to Wyoming's 21-yard line. After a 16-yard-loss on a fumble backed the Gators up, Hetland connected on his first career field goal from 40 yards out to expand the margin to 17-0.

The Gators started the second half with a bang when junior Skyler Thornton (LaGrange, Ga.) opened the possession with a 12-yard run. With UF facing 3rd-and-4, Leak found junior wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) darting down the sideline for 19 yards into Wyoming territory. With 11:44 remaining in the third quarter, Florida increased its lead to 23-0 when Leak hooked up with Jackson for a 26-yard scoring toss, Jackson's third touchdown reception of the game. Leak's 15th straight completion capped off a seven-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 3:16. However, the extra-point attempt went awry, marking Florida's first failed PAT since Nov. 2, 2002.

Following a 66-yard kickoff return by senior Jovon Bouknight, Wyoming broke into the scoring column with 7:08 left in the third quarter when senior Corey Bramlet scored on a four-yard rush. The Cowboys' drive covered 34 yards in eight plays.

On the ensuing kickoff, Caldwell produced a 47-yard return to give the Gators possession at Wyoming's 48 yard-line. Hetland later boomed a 47-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Gators a 19-point cushion, 26-7, with 3:11 left in the third quarter. Hetland's second three-pointer of the night marked the first time since Nov. 6, 2004 that a Gator had converted two field goals from beyond 40 yards in the same game, as Matt Leach accomplished the feat in a 34-17 road win over Vanderbilt.

Brown's first career interception gave the Gators the ball at Wyoming's 43-yard line and set up his club's final score of the night. Facing a second and goal from the five-yard line, Leak tossed an option pitch to Jackson, who found his way into the end zone for the fourth time in the game. Florida's conversion attempt failed, holding the margin at 32-7.

With 4:43 remaining, Bouknight hauled in an 18-yard pass from Bramlet to pull the Cowboys to within 32-14. The 76-yard, nine-play drive spanned 3:06.

For the Gators, Jackson set career highs in receiving yards (138), receptions (10) and touchdowns (four). Caldwell finished with seven catches for 99 yards, while senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) had five receptions for 44 yards. Freshman Josh Portis (Woodland Hills, Calif.) gained a team-high 45 yards on five carries, including a team-high 23-yard rush on UF's final drive. Wyoming's Bramlet was 14-for-32 for 150 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Freshman Wynel Seldon was his team's rushing leader with 56 yards on 18 carries, while Bouknight had five catches for 54 yards.

Florida rang up 411 yards of total offense on 70 plays, featuring 36 rushes and 34 passing attempts. The Gators did not commit any turnovers and used a team-high seven tackles by sophomore Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) and six solo tackles by Brown to limit Wyoming to 222 yards of total offense. The Gators (1-0) return to action next Saturday at 6 p.m. when they welcome Louisiana Tech (0-0) to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Louisiana Tech

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 3 0 0 3
Gators 7 14 13 7 41

The 10th-ranked Gator football team improved to 2-0 on Saturday night with a 41-3 victory over Louisiana Tech at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. With 90,099 fans looking on, the Orange and Blue rolled up 475 yards of offense and scored six touchdowns, while limiting the Bulldogs (0-1) to 162 yards of total offense.

Making his season debut, junior running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored three touchdowns and gained 101 yards on 16 carries. He scored on a pair of one-yard runs and snared a 24-yard scoring toss from junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.), who was 13-of-22 for 219 yards and two scores. Junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) registered his second consecutive 100-yard receiving effort with five catches for 105 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown reception.

Wynn opened the scoring with 8:32 remaining in the opening frame for his first touchdown since Oct. 16, 2004, versus Middle Tennessee State. Wynn accounted for all 57 yards on the drive, including a 50-yard run that moved the Gators into scoring position at the Bulldog seven yard-line. Junior kicker Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) tacked on the extra point to put Florida up 7-0 and complete the five-play, 2:27 drive.

With 11:58 left in the second quarter, the Gators struck again for a 14-0 lead. Leak handed off a reverse to junior wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.), who bolted 26 yards to the one-yard line before Wynn carried the ball into the end zone for his second TD of the night. The drive, capped off by Hetland's extra point, spanned 54 yards in five plays and took 1:35 off the clock.

Florida increased its lead to 21-0 with exactly six minutes remaining in the half on a 24-yard long ball from Leak to Wynn. Jackson had sprinted for a 16-yard carry down to Louisiana Tech's 24 yard-line before Wynn’s second career receiving touchdown and the ensuing kick from Hetland. The 72-yard drive used six plays and 3:13 of clock time.

Louisiana Tech’s lone score of the contest came after linebacker Brannon Jackson recovered a Florida fumble, its first turnover of the season, at the 45-yard line. A field goal from 37 yards by Bulldog sophomore kicker Danny Horwedel narrowed the gap to 21-3.

The Gators hit pay-dirt again with 8:05 left in the third quarter, when Leak closed a 12-play, 61-yard drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone. Facing third down and 17 from his team's own 44-yard line, Leak found senior wide receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) for a 19-yard sideline completion to move the chains. Later on third down and six, Leak hooked up with Caldwell for a 23-yard gain down to the Bulldogs' 10-yard line. UF's lead remained at 27-3 following a missed PAT by Hetland.

On the Orange and Blue's next possession, an 80-yard bomb from Leak to Jackson resulted in the hosts' fifth TD of the night. Leak has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 23 starts of his career. Junior Eric Nappy (Gainesville, Fla.) added the extra point on his first career attempt for a 34-3 Gator lead. The season-high 91-yard drive took three plays and 1:27 of the clock.

UF senior linebacker Todd McCullough (MacClenny, Fla.) ended the Bulldogs' next possession with his first career interception to put his squad at Tech's 25 yard-line. Facing fourth down and four, Leak completed a seven-yard pass to Jackson to the Bulldogs' 20. An 11-yard reception by Baker placed the Gators at the two yard-line, and Leak scored on a one-yard sneak to conclude the 25-yard, eight-play drive. Nappy’s extra point finalized the margin at 41-3 in favor of the Gators.

Florida out-gained the Bulldogs by a 251-45 margin, paced by Wynn (101) and freshman Markus Manson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), who gained 68 yards on 10 carries in the fourth quarter. The duo of Baker (63 yards) and Jackson (105 yards) totaled five receptions apiece, as four different receivers had a catch for over 20 yards. Defensively, the trio of senior cornerback Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.), junior linebacker Earl Everett (Webster, Fla.) and junior safety Reggie Nelson (Melbourne, Fla.) had five tackles each.

The Gators will begin Southeastern Conference play next weekend when Eastern Division rival Tennessee (1-0) arrives in the Swamp. The game will air nationally on CBS beginning at 8 p.m.

Tennessee

1 2 3 4 Total
Volunteers 0 7 0 0 7
Gators 7 0 6 3 16

Before a record-breaking crowd of 90,716 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night, the sixth-ranked Gator football team (3-0) claimed its Southeastern Conference opener with a 16-7 victory over fourth-ranked Tennessee (1-1). Junior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was 17-of-26 for 179 yards and zero interceptions, junior wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.) scored on an 18-yard run and junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) was perfect on field-goal attempts from 38, 35 and 20 yards out to help UF capture Urban Meyer's SEC coaching debut. The Gator defense held Tennessee scoreless for the final 39:29 of the game and controlled the ball for 11:16 in the fourth quarter.

Florida scored first with 4:14 left in the first quarter on an 18-yard run by Caldwell. During the eight-play, 80-yard drive, Leak found junior wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) for a 14-yard gain to convert a third-down and eight. Two plays later, junior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) charged 16 yards into Tennessee territory at the 49-yard-line. The Gators advanced into the red zone after freshman running back Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas) made a 14-yard rush and Wynn picked up 17 more yards on a pass from Leak. Caldwell executed an end around to open the scoring and Hetland tacked on the extra point to move Florida ahead, 7-0.

The Vols evened the score at 7-7 with 9:29 remaining in the second quarter on an eight-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Erik Ainge to junior wide receiver Bret Smith. Tennessee covered 83 yards on 12 plays, taking 5:17 of the clock, and used an extra-point by junior James Wilhoit to tie the game.

Following a fumble recovery at Tennessee's 31-yard line by junior cornerback Tremaine McCollum (Miami, Fla.), Florida later went ahead to stay on a 38-yard field goal by Hetland with 11:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Soon after, the Gators added three more points following a failed fake punt attempt by the Vols which allowed UF to take over at the 31-yard-line. Facing a third-down and nine from Tennessee's 30-yard-line, Leak scrambled 17 yards for the first down. However, the defense stiffened and the result was a 35-yard kick by Hetland with 5:14 left in the frame that gave the Orange and Blue a 13-7 advantage.

A 16-play, 68-yard drive spanning 7:42 yielded the Gators' final points of the night, a 20-yard field goal by Hetland that completed the margin at 16-7. Facing third down and 19 yards from his team's 34-yard line, Leak launched a 23-yard dart to senior wide receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) for a first down at Tennessee's 43 yard-line. On another third-down situation, Leak hooked up with Cornelius for a 24-yard sideline completion. Jackson later made his third first-down reception of the contest to set up the field goal.

The Gators managed a 247-213 edge in total yards over the Vols and had a slim 68-66 rushing advantage. Wynn had a career-high 17 rushes for 53 yards, while Jackson led the receiving corps with eight catches for 53 yards. Caldwell (three catches, 51 yards) reached the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for his career with an 18-yard grab in the second quarter. For Tennessee, senior Gerald Riggs, Jr., gained 86 yards on 17 rushes, while the quarterback duo of Ainge (14-of-29, 147 yards) and senior Rick Clausen (2-of-5, zero yards) was 16-of-35 for 147 yards.

On defense, senior cornerback Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) and senior safety Jarvis Herring (Live Oak, Fla.) teamed up to lead Florida with seven tackles apiece. In addition, junior cornerback Demetrice Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.) blocked UT's 37-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter.

The Gators return to SEC action next Saturday when they visit Eastern Division rival Kentucky (1-2) at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Game time will be announced on Sunday afternoon.

Kentucky

1 2 3 4 Total
Gators 14 35 0 0 49
Wildcats 7 0 7 14 28

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 Florida’s 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 Baker’s 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.

Alabama

1 2 3 4 Total
Gators 0 3 0 0 3
Crimson Tide 17 7 7 0 31

Note: Although Alabama won this game, as of Thursday, June 11, 2009 the NCAA vacates this win from Alabama for their textbook infractions.

The fifth-ranked Gator football team suffered a 31-3 defeat to 15th-ranked Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference, while Florida (4-1/2-1 SEC) fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. Head coach Urban Meyer's personal 20-game winning streak at Utah and Florida also came to an end.

Alabama senior quarterback Brodie Croyle was 14-for-17 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, including an 87-yard scoring toss to Tyrone Prothro on UA's first offensive play just 3:33 into the game. That pass was the longest allowed from scrimmage by the Gators this season.

On UF's next series, junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was intercepted for the first time all season, ending a stretch of 117 consecutive passes without a pick. That streak matched Wayne Peace (1981) for the third-longest in school history. The Tide's Chris Harris caught the deflected pass and returned it 14 yards down to the Gators' two-yard line. Three plays later, junior Tim Castille carried the ball into the end zone from one yard out and the extra point gave the hosts a 14-0 lead. Alabama added three more points on a 22-yard field goal by Jamie Christensen with 5:52 remaining in the quarter for a 17-3 advantage.

Florida's only points of the afternoon came with 7:32 remaining in the second frame on a 37-yard field goal by junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.), who is now a perfect 6-for-6 on the season. The scoring was set up by a 42-yard completion from Leak to senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) to the 23-yard line. Baker matched a career-best with six receptions and his 115 yards were a career-high.

Following the kickoff that rolled out of bounds, Alabama countered on its next play with a 65-yard hook-up between Croyle and Keith Brown to build a 24-3 lead that it took into the locker room.

The Crimson Tide finalized the scoring on its initial drive of the third quarter, when Croyle found Prothro for a 15-yard touchdown to complete a seven-play, 80-yard march.

Alabama had the edge in total offense, 407-326, and became the first team to hold Florida without a touchdown since Mississippi State on Oct. 1, 1992. Tide running back Kenneth Darby gained 101 yards on 15 carries, while Prothro had five receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a season-ending leg injury.

For the Gators, junior running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) was limited to 47 yards on 12 carries and Leak finished 16-for-37 with 187 yards and was sacked four times. Junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) had a game-high eight catches for 50 yards. Junior linebacker Earl Everett (Webster, Fla.) ran a reverse 32 yards on a fake punt to pick up a first down for the Gators late in the first quarter.

Florida will host Mississippi State (2-3/0-3 SEC) in its Homecoming Game next Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot Sports beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Mississippi State

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 3 0 6 0 9
Gators 3 9 9 14 35

The 13th-ranked Gator football team defeated Mississippi State, 35-9, in front of a sun-splashed crowd of 90,104 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Florida (5-1/3-1 SEC) claimed its 17th straight Homecoming victory, while the Bulldogs fell to 2-4 overall and 0-4 in league action. In addition, the Gators have taken five of their first six contests for the first time since 2001.

Senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) and finished with career highs in receptions (seven) and yardage (123 yards). Meanwhile, the Gator defense totaled six sacks, forced three turnovers and registered two safeties.

After intercepting Leak on the Gators’ opening drive and taking possession at UF’s 29-yard line, Mississippi State was victimized by a turnover of its own when sophomore Kyle Jackson (Neptune Beach, Fla.) notched his second pick of the year with a sprawling grab in the end zone.

Florida opened the scoring with a 10-play, 53-yard drive that was capped by a 44-yard field goal from junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) with 8:22 remaining in the first quarter. Facing a third down and seven from UF’s 34-yard line, Leak found junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) on a crossing pattern for 11 yards to extend Jackson’s streak to 18 consecutive games with a reception. On the next two plays, freshman Markus Manson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) and Jackson picked up consecutive first downs with carries of 11 and 12 yards, respectively, before Hetland connected on his third field goal from beyond 40 yards this year.

On their next drive, the Bulldogs answered with a career-long field goal of 49 yards by junior Keith Andrews to tie the score at 3-3 with 4:08 left in the opening frame. State used an eight-play drive, spanning 4:14, and gained 33 yards to even the contest.

Midway through the second quarter, junior Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.) pinned the Bulldogs’ at their own one-yard line with a season-high 56-yard punt. Soon after, senior Jarvis Herring (Live Oak, Fla.) pressured MSU junior quarterback Omarr Conner into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 5-3 Gator lead. Florida’s defense had not recorded a safety since Nov. 21, 1998, against Florida State.

Following a 40-yard punt by Wilbur, a fumble recovery by junior Reggie Nelson (Melbourne, Fla.) on the muffed punt gave Florida the ball at Mississippi State’s 13-yard line. On the next play, junior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) took the handoff from Leak and raced into the end zone for his SEC-leading eighth touchdown of the campaign and a 12-3 advantage for the hosts with 6:16 left until the half. The one-play drive lasting seven seconds was UF’s quickest since a one-play, four-second drive against San Jose State on Aug. 30, 2003, when Ran Carthon had a two-yard rushing score.

Just before the half, the Bulldogs used a 56-yard completion from freshman Michael Henig to classmate Keon Humphries down to the Florida 18-yard line, setting up a 35-yard field goal attempt by Andrews with two seconds remaining. However, the kick was wide right to send the Gators into the locker room ahead, 12-3. UF carried the ball 18 times for 107 yards in the first half and each team had a pair of turnovers.

UF extended its lead to 19-3 on a three-yard rushing touchdown by Leak with 5:31 left in the third quarter. The TD was Leak’s third on the ground this season, placing him second on the squad. The 5:17 scoring drive covered 73 yards and 10 plays and featured a 12-yard reception by junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) and a 28-yard grab by Baker.

Twenty-seven seconds later, senior Jerious Norwood ripped off a career-best 76-yard scoring run to pull the Bulldogs to within 19-9. However, the two-point conversion was no good when senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) tipped away the pass from Hening intended for junior Will Prosser.

After Wilbur hemmed MSU at the one-yard line for the second time in the game, a sack by sophomore Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) on Henig resulted in the Gators’ second safety of the afternoon and a 21-9 lead with 59 seconds remaining in the third. It was the first time Florida had two safeties in a game since a 31-4 setback to Miami (Fla.) on Sept. 5, 1987. UF received the ensuing free kick and drove the ball 68 yards on eight plays, completed by a 15-yard scoring toss from Leak to Baker to build a 28-9 advantage with 13:07 left in the game.

A blocked punt by Webb in the end zone resulted in a touchdown by junior Terrence Holmes (Glassboro, N.J.) and a 35-9 cushion for the Gators with 12 minutes showing on the clock. It was the first blocked kick for a TD by Florida since Sept. 11, 1999, against UCF.

The Gators finished with 480 yards of total offense, gaining 191 yards on 37 carries (5.2 avg.) and passing for 289 yards. Leak was 18-for-33 for 244 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while freshman Josh Portis (Woodland Hills, Calif.) was 3-for-5 for 45 yards and one pick. Manson led the team with 45 yards on seven attempts and Portis carried the ball five times for 40 yards. The duo of Baker (123 yards) and Jackson (78 yards) had seven receptions apiece. Wilbur punted six times for the Gators and kept MSU inside of its own 20-yard line five times, good for an average of 47.3 yards per kick.

For Mississippi State, Hening was 9-for-20 for 119 yards after replacing the injured Conner (2-for-5, 15 yards). Norwood rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries and was responsible for the Bulldogs' only touchdown. Florida had a 34:07-25:53 edge in the time of possession.

Florida heads to Baton Rouge next weekend to face Western Division rival LSU. The game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports at 3:30 p.m.

LSU

1 2 3 4 Total
Gators 0 7 10 0 17
Tigers 14 0 0 7 21

The 11th-ranked Gator football team endured a 21-17 loss to 10th-ranked Louisiana State on Saturday afternoon in front of a record crowd of 92,402 fans at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. With the win, the Tigers improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play, while UF dropped to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in league play.

Tiger quarterback JaMarcus Russell was 14-for-22 for 236 yards and two TDs and running back Joseph Addai gained 156 yards on 32 carries, highlighted by a three-yard touchdown run with 12:35 remaining in the game to seal the win. Florida failed to capitalize on three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 11 LSU penalties.

LSU scored on its opening drive with a 43-yard reception by Bennie Brazell, and later extended its advantage with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Russel to Dwayne Bowe to grab a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

With 8:44 remaining in the second quarter, freshman running back Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas) rushed 32 yards into the end zone for his first career touchdown. Following an extra point by kicker Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.), the Gators narrowed the gap to 14-7 with a drive that lasted 16 seconds.

An interception by senior safety Jarvis Herring (Live Oak, Fla.) set up a 22-yard field goal by Hetland on UF’s first possession of the second half to trim LSU's lead to 14-10. During the drive, junior running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) dashed 36 yards to move the Gators' offense down to LSU's 10-yard line.

With 4:02 left in the third quarter, Florida seized the lead following an interception by junior Joe Cohen (Melbourne, Fla.) that gave the offense field position at the LSU 32-yard line. Wynn capped a three-play, 32-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown. The junior accounted for all of the offense during the drive, including a 20-yard toss from junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) on the first play. Hetland tacked on the PAT to put UF up, 17-14.

LSU answered with the final points of the game with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a three-yard rush into the end zone by Addai. The Bayou Bengals took 6:27 off the clock and completed the night’s scoring at 21-17.

Junior wide receiver Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) led the Gator receiving corps with five catches for 29 yards, extending his streak to 19 straight games with a reception. Wynn finished with 93 yards on 16 carries, while Moore had 37 yards on three carries. Leak was just 11-for-30 for 107 yards and zero touchdowns.

Junior linebacker Earl Everett (Webster, Fla.) led the UF defense with a career-high 14 tackles, and sophomore defensive end Jarvis Moss (Denton, Texas) registered three sacks and had a fumble recovery. Florida has now forced 21 turnovers by its opponent through seven games this season.

Junior Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.) continued to be a bright spot for the Gators, averaging 43.2 yards during his 10 punts in Death Valley. He pinned the Tigers inside of the 20-yard line on three occasions and the Gators limited Skyler Green to just one yard on punt returns.

Florida will had a one-week break before they neet Eastern Division rival Georgia on Saturday, Oct. 29, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Georgia

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 3 7 0 10
Gators 14 0 0 0 14

The 16th-ranked Gator football team knocked off previously unbeaten No. 4 Georgia, 14-10, on Saturday afternoon at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville. Florida (6-2/4-2 SEC) defeated the Bulldogs (7-1/5-1 SEC) for the 14th time in the last 16 meetings in front of a crowd of 84,501, the second-largest of the 83 encounters between the Southeastern Conference rivals.

Junior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) finished 15-of-20 for 108 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. He joined Danny Wuerffel as the only quarterback in school history to defeat four top-10 opponents away from Gainesville. Junior running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) eclipsed the century mark with 109 yards on 19 carries for the third 100-yard rushing game of his career.

The Gators received the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 13 plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Leak. Florida converted four third downs in scoring on its initial possession for the first time this season. Wynn gained 33 yards on five carries during the six-minute drive, and had a 12-yard run and an eight-yard reception on third down to move the chains.

After forcing Georgia three-and-out on its first drive, senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) returned the ensuing punt 29 yards to give UF field possession at the Bulldogs’ 41-yard line. Leak found senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) for 20 yards down the sideline and Wynn powered 19 yards on the next play to reach the two-yard line. The Gators seized a 14-0 lead with 6:09 remaining in the first quarter on a one-yard scoring toss from Leak to sophomore Tate Casey (Longview, Texas). It was the tight end’s fourth reception of the year and his first touchdown since Nov. 13 of last year during a 48-14 win over South Carolina.

After being held to zero passing yards and 33 total yards in the opening frame, the Bulldogs got on the board with 12:15 remaining in the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal by sophomore Brandon Coutu. Georgia totaled 71 yards on the 14-play drive and held the ball for 4:17.

Junior Reggie Nelson (Melbourne, Fla.) stopped a UGA drive with 6:48 left until halftime when he picked off junior Joe Tereshinski III on third down. It was the safety’s first interception as a Gator.

Late in the quarter and facing a third down and 11, Leak found junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) for a 21-yard gain down to Georgia’s six-yard line with 1:21 showing on the clock. It was the 20th straight game with a reception for the wide receiver. However, Wynn fumbled on the next play and the Bulldogs recovered, sending the teams to the locker room with Florida holding a 14-3 advantage. Leak was 11-for-15 for 96 yards and Wynn gained 86 yards on 13 carries in the first half as UF held a 212-112 edge in total offense.

The Bulldogs misfired on a 37-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half after moving the ball down to UF’s 22-yard line. Georgia’s defense forced the Gators to punt after three plays and took over at UF’s 49-yard line. The result was a nine-play touchdown drive completed by a nine-yard pass from sophomore running back Thomas Brown to Tereshinski with 3:43 remaining in the third quarter to help the Dawgs close the gap to 14-10.

Facing fourth down and two at their own 39 yard-line on the last drive of the third quarter, junior punter Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.) picked up 20 yards on a fake to keep the drive going. Georgia’s defense stiffened and forced UF to punt three plays later.

The Bulldogs took over at the eight yard-line and used a 12-play, 57-yard to move into field-goal position. Coutu’s 52-yard attempt with 7:41 remaining in the game hit the right upright and bounced wide. Florida ran 4:31 off the clock before Wilbur punted into the endzone for a touchback with 3:10 left. Although UGA converted a third down and 11 on a 21-yard completion by Tereshinski to senior Bryan McClendon, it was stopped on the next four plays by the Gators, who proceeded to run out the clock.

Baker led the UF receivers with 49 yards on five catches. Defensively, senior Jeremy Mincey (Statesboro, Ga.) paced the Gators with six tackles, including an eight-yard tackle for loss. In addition, Nelson totaled five tackles and an interception. For Georgia, Tereshinski was 8-of-21 for 100 yards, while sophomore Danny Ware carried the ball 14 times for 71 yards.

The Gators return to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium next weekend to host Vanderbilt (4-4/2-3 SEC) at 7:15 p.m. The game will be carried live on ESPN2.

Vanderbilt

1 2 3 4 OT Total
Commodores 7 7 0 21 7 42
Gators 7 7 14 7 14 49

The 13th-ranked Gator football team held off Vanderbilt, 49-42, in double overtime on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to improve to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference. With 90,140 fans and a national television audience looking on, Florida used an interception by junior Reggie Lewis (Jacksonville, Fla.) on a pass by Commodore senior quarterback Jay Cutler to end the game. On the previous possession, junior wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) hauled in a 16-yard reception from junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) with a dramatic catch in the back of the end zone to propel UF to its 15th straight triumph over its Eastern Division rival.

Leak finished with a career-high 32 completions in 41 attempts for 257 yards and passed for three touchdowns. He also led the Gators with a career-best 67 yards rushing on 12 carries, scored on a pair of one-yard runs and completed passes to 10 different receivers. Cutler was 28-for-42 for the Commodores, passing for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

Vanderbilt (4-5/2-4 SEC) scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and rallied from a 35-21 deficit with under three minutes remaining to force only the second overtime ever in The Swamp. With 2:17 showing on the clock, Cutler found rookie wide receiver George Smith from two yards out and the successful extra point brought the Commodores to within a touchdown. The visitors recovered an onside kick and marched 57 yards on eight plays, capped off by a six-yard scoring toss from Cutler to freshman wide receiver Earl Bennett with 54 seconds left in regulation. Following a 15-yard penalty, freshman Bryant Hahnfeldt knocked through the long PAT to even the score at 35-35.

In the first overtime, Vanderbilt seized the lead on an eight-yard run by sophomore Jeff Jennings. The Gators responded on their possession with a touchdown when Leak hooked up with junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) on third down and eight for a nine-yard completion that tied the score and forced another extra session.

In the second overtime, Florida opened the drive with a nine-yard rush by freshman Markus Manson (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). On the next play, Cornelius pulled down the 16-yard pass from Leak and the Gators waited out a review of the replay upstairs before junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) booted the point after to put the hosts on top, 49-42. On the Commodores' first play on their second turn of the overtime, Lewis made his first career interception on the sideline in front of UF's bench to secure the victory.

Vanderbilt took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards on six plays to grab a 7-0 lead on a 14-yard pass from Cutler to Earl Bennett with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter. Soon after, the Gators scored a touchdown on their initial drive for the second-straight game. During the 79-yard, 13-play drive that consumed 7:36, Leak threw 12 yards to sophomore tight end Tate Casey (Longview, Texas) to convert a third-down-and-eight, and Manson darted 16 yards to move the Gators to the 23 yard-line. On first-and-goal at the one-yard-line, Leak dove into the end zone and Hetland connected on the extra point to tie the score.

With 2:19 left in the first quarter, senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) intercepted Cutler’s pass to set up the Gators' next scoring drive from the Commodores' 38-yard-line. Facing fourth down and one during the drive, a quarterback sneak by Leak gave the Gators a fresh set of downs at the 27 yard-line. Leak later pitched to Jackson for 10 yards to bring the offense down the eight yard-line. Freshman running back Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas) later scored on a nine-yard reception for his second career touchdown and the Gators had a 14-7 lead.

Vanderbilt knotted the game at 14-14 with 6:26 remaining in the half on a one-yard TD rush by sophomore Cassen Jackson-Garrison. Cutler completed 16-, 17- and 18-yard passes during the drive, and Jennings contributed a 21-yard rush. The 86-yard, eight-play drive lasted 3:49. Florida attempted a 26-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half to move in front, but Hetland's try was wide left for his first miss of the season following eight-consecutive makes.

On Vanderbilt’s first possession of the second half, sophomore linebacker Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) made his fifth fumble recovery of the season at the Commodores' 14-yard-line. From the nine-yard-line, Jackson jetted to the end zone and the extra point by Hetland put the Gators ahead, 21-14, with 12:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Siler recovered another fumble, his sixth of the season, to end Vanderbilt's next drive. The SEC leader in fumble recoveries returned the ball 14 yards to the Commodores' 46- yard-line. Leak completed a 12-play scoring drive with his second one-yard scamper of the night to put the Gators ahead, 28-14, with 3:51 remaining in the period.

Vanderbilt narrowed the margin to seven points with 12:49 left in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass from Cutler to senior Erik Davis. The Gators then chewed up 8:38 with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a two-touchdown advantage. The score came on Manson's first career TD, a two-yard rush. Facing third and 10 during the drive, Manson made a 16-yard dash for a first down at the 50-yard-line, and Moore carried twice (13 and 11 yards) to move his squad's offense down to the 10-yard-line.

Florida totaled 448 yards of offense in the contest, gaining 257 yards through the air and 191 yards on the ground. Manson finished with 61 yards on 18 carries and had six receptions for 48 yards. Jackson paced the Gators for the eighth time in nine games this season with 53 yards on eight carries and contributed a touchdown rushing and receiving. For Vanderbilt, Davis had a game-high 127 yards receiving on eight catches, while Jennings totaled 50 yards on eight rushes. The Commodores rolled up 419 yards of total offense, 361 in the air but managed only 58 yards rushing on 25 attempts. UF controlled the time of possession, 34:41-25:12.

The Gators return to action next Saturday against South Carolina (6-3/4-3 SEC) at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The game will air on Jefferson-Pilot Sports at 12:30 p.m.

South Carolina

1 2 3 4 Total
Gators 3 9 7 3 22
Gamecocks 7 13 7 3 30

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.

Florida State

1 2 3 4 Total
Seminoles 0 0 0 7 7
Gators 0 14 3 17 34

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 ‘Noles 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 Gators’ 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 FSU’s next possession, when Herring forced a fumble by sophomore wide receiver De’Cody 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. Hetland’s 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.

Iowa

Outback Bowl

1 2 3 4 Total
Hawks 0 7 0 17 24
Gators 7 17 7 0 31

The Gator football team defeated the University of Iowa, 31-24, at The 2006 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in front of 65,881 fans on Monday afternoon. In finishing 9-3 overall, Urban Meyer’s team became the first in school history to defeat Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State and win its bowl game in the same season.

Senior wide receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) was chosen as the game’s Most Valuable Player after posting the second-highest receiving yardage total in Outback Bowl history with 147 yards. He posted career highs in yardage and receptions (10) and matched a personal best with touchdown receptions of 24 and 38 yards.

After the Gators forced Iowa three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, junior Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.) blocked the punt attempt by Hawkeye junior Andy Fenstermaker. Junior Tremaine McCollum (Miami, Fla.) then picked up the loose ball and scampered six yards into the end zone on UF’s fifth blocked kick of the season. The score marked the first time in Florida’s 33 bowl appearances that the Gators had blocked a punt for a touchdown. Junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead just 1:35 into the game.

UF moved ahead 10-0 with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Hetland. The kick capped off a 15-play, 53-yard drive for the Orange and Blue that lasted 7:23. Junior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was 3-for-4 on the drive for 23 yards and Hetland atoned for a 23-yard attempt that was wide right earlier.

With 1:57 remaining until the half, senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.) picked off a pass from Iowa junior quarterback Drew Tate and raced 60 yards into the end zone for his first career touchdown and a 17-0 lead. Brown’s third career pick marked the Gators’ first interception return since Keiwan Ratliff had a 52-yard TD versus Vanderbilt on Nov. 8, 2003.

Setup by a 47-yard kickoff return by sophomore Damian Sims to Florida’s 39-yard line, the Hawkeyes narrowed the deficit to 17-7 with 1:10 left in the second quarter on a 20-yard pass from Tate to senior Clinton Solomon.

The Gators countered with a quick drive of their own, culminated by a 24-yard, acrobatic catch by senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) with one tick on the clock before the break. Florida covered 80 yards in eight plays and was aided by a running into the punter penalty on fourth down that extended the drive. On the next play, Leak rushed for two yards and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Iowa put the ball on the Hawkeyes’ 37-yard line. Following a six-yard reception by Baker and a timeout with 13 seconds left, Leak found Baker for seven yards to the 24-yard line. On the next play, the quarterback found his teammate again down the right sideline just past the pylon for his 19th passing touchdown of the campaign. Although the play was reviewed to ensure that Baker was in bounds, the receiver’s fourth TD reception of the year was upheld.

The Leak-Baker combination worked to perfection for Florida’s first score of the second half, as Baker hauled in a 38-yard reception with 5:23 left in the third frame and hit pay dirt for a 31-7 UF cushion. Baker’s second touchdown of the afternoon not only matched his career high, established against Arkansas on Oct. 2, 2004, it enabled him to exceed 100 yards receiving for the third time this season and in his career.

Following a muffed punt by junior Chad Jackson (Hoover, Ala.) that was recovered by Iowa at UF’s five-yard line, the Hawkeyes narrowed the gap to 31-14 on a four-yard pass from Tate to senior Ed Hinkel with 13:51 remaining in the contest. Tate connected with Hinkel again at the 6:59 mark of the final quarter on a 14-yard pass which capped a nine-play, 72-yard march down the field by the Iowa offense to bring the Hawks within 10 points.

Iowa’s defense stepped up on the next Florida drive to stop the Gators on their own 30-yard line to take over the ball after UF failed to convert on fourth down and six. Another nine-play Hawkeye drive ended with a 45-yard field goal by junior Kyle Schlicher to bring Iowa within a touchdown at 31-24 as the clock read 1:24 to play in the game.

A penalty called on Iowa after it recovered its own onside kick on the next play pushed the Hawkeyes back five yards and forced them to re-kick. Jackson took control of the onside kick the second time around to erase any hopes of an Iowa comeback.

Leak finished 25-of-40 for 278 yards and two touchdowns, the fourth time this season he has passed for multiple scores. In addition to Baker’s 10 receptions, Jackson caught seven passes for 76 yards and extended his SEC-leading streak to 24 straight games with a reception. Freshman Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas) led the Gators with a career-high 88 yards on 13 carries.

For Iowa, Tate was 32-for-55 for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Hinkel made nine receptions for 87 yards and scored twice. Hawkeye senior linebacker Abdul Hodge set an Outback Bowl record with 19 tackles, 14 solo, while junior Dee Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.) had a team-high 10 tackles for the Gators. Florida junior punter Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.) averaged 46.3 yards per kick, highlighted by a UF bowl record punt of 63 yards.

Coaching staff

  • Urban Meyer - Head Coach - 0 years at UF
  • Steve Addazio - Tackles/Tight Ends - 0 years
  • Stan Drayton - Running Backs - 0 years
  • Billy Gonzales - Wide Receivers - 0 years
  • Chuck Heater - Recruiting Coordinator/Cornerbacks - 0 years
  • John Hevesy - Centers/Guards - 0 years
  • John "Doc" Holliday - Associate Head Coach/Safeties - 0 years
  • Greg Mattison - Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line - 0 years
  • Dan Mullen - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks - 0 years
  • Charlie Strong - Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers - 5 years

See also


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