Kentucky Falls to Florida in SEC Opener
Sept. 24, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Plenty has been made about Florida's speed. Turns out the 15th-ranked Gators can score pretty quickly, too.
Florida scored three touchdowns in a 4:31 span of the first quarter, and Jeff Demps iced the game with an 84-yard touchdown run as No. 15 Florida routed Kentucky 48-10 on Saturday night for the Gators' 25th straight win in the series.
"We have that quick strike ability to flip the field and score," said Will Muschamp, who became the sixth Florida coach to start his career 4-0. "All those things are deflating to a (opposing) team."
Demps carried the ball 10 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which qualified as the sixth-longest scoring run in Florida history.
The Wildcats managed to frustrate the Gators early on in their first road trip of the season. On the first drive of the game, one scripted beforehand by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Florida went three-and-out for just the fourth time all season, and the second drive didn't prove to be much better.
But a fumble by the Wildcats provided the burst of energy Florida (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) needed. Josh Clemons lost the ball on second-and-1 at the Kentucky 45, and John Brantley hit Gerald Christian on a 45-yard touchdown pass across the middle on the next play to give the Gators a 7-0 lead with 8:10 in the first quarter.
The Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) failed to pick up a single yard on their next possession, and Demps ran off tackle for 20 yards for the Gators' next touchdown, capping a four-play drive that took just 1:23.
Kentucky picked up a first down on its next drive - its first of the game - but Matt Elam picked off a pass by Morgan Newton at the Kentucky 46 and returned it 17 yards to the Florida 28. Chris Rainey ran most of the rest of the way, with Trey Burton polishing it off with a 1-yard TD run to put the Gators up 21-0 with 3:39 still left in the first quarter.
Florida now has outscored the Wildcats 94-3 in the first quarters of the past four meetings.
"That's a sloppy football team," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said of his Wildcats. "I've got to get this football team to know how precious, how precious the football is. We've had very poor field position the last couple weeks, and we've given the opponents good field position, and that equals an L most of the time."
Kentucky gave the ball away again in the second quarter, deep in its own territory. Jonathan Bostic hit Newton as his arm was behind his head, Newton dropped the ball and Florida's Jaye Howard grabbed it, running 2 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-3 with 11:30 left in the half.
The Wildcats scored their lone TD by making the Gators pay for a mistake of their own. Brantley headed to the locker room a few minutes before halftime after getting drilled by Danny Trevathan, the SEC's leading tackler. On his second play, backup quarterback Jeff Driskel fumbled the ball as Trevathan hit him, and Trevathan fell on the ball at the Florida 26.
Newton, who was 16-of-33 for 124 yards with two interceptions, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass two plays later to La'Rod King with 1:18 before halftime to cut the Gators' lead to 31-10.
But the Wildcats were too far in the hole at that point, and couldn't stop Florida's speedy running backs in the second half.
Demps, who won a national title in the 60-meter dash at the 2010 indoor NCAA championships, showed the speed the Gators have become known for as he raced by defenders for his long touchdown run. It was Florida's longest since Emmitt Smith's 96-yard touchdown run against Mississippi State in 1988.
"I just tried to run a little faster," Demps said. "As soon as you see the hole, you get through it. You got the lane, you take it and go score."
Demps finished with 10 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns, Rainey added 105 yards for the Gators, who finished with 405 yards rushing, and Brantley was 8 for 14 for 115 yards and one touchdown. Florida hosts No. 3 Alabama and travels to No. 2 LSU in the next two weeks.
Kentucky also couldn't do much on offense against the Football Bowl Subdivision's top run defense, picking up just 134 yards on the ground. The Gators also entered the game ranked sixth in scoring defense and seventh in total defense.
"It is definitely frustrating, and what made it the most frustrating was that it was all self-inflicted," Kentucky center Matt Smith said. "We came out fired up, and we were ready to give them what they weren't expecting. Once we had a couple of turnovers, it deflated us a little bit. It's hard to get going again once they got the momentum, especially with a team like that as good as they are and as fast as they are."