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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Emmitt Smith Rushes for 224 Yards; Gators Upset Alabama, 23-14

September 20, 1987|Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Freshman Emmitt Smith turned his first college start into a showpiece Saturday, rushing for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns in leading Florida to a 23-14 upset of No. 11 Alabama.

"Emmitt Smith was outstanding," Alabama Coach Bill Curry said after the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

"He had good blocking, but he made good things happen on his own," Curry said. "He has the uncanny knack of shrugging people off."

Smith, 5 feet 10 inches and 201 pounds, broke a 6-6 tie on a 30-yard run through the middle with 5:39 left in the third quarter and gave the Gators a 17-point lead on a 1-yard plunge with 7:50 left in the game.

Smith got his total in 39 carries, breaking a school mark of 218 yards set in 1930 by Red Bethea against the University of Chicago.

Neal Anderson, currently playing for the Chicago Bears, held the school mark for carries with 33 against Kentucky in 1982.

"He has great vision, he has great balance," Florida Coach Galen Hall said of Smith. "Very seldom do you get a real clear shot at Emmitt."

It was Florida's first victory over the Crimson Tide since 1963, ending an eight-game losing streak in the series since upsetting a Joe Namath-led team, 10-6.

Alabama, which upset defending national champion Penn State last week, fell to 2-1, taking its first loss under new coach Curry.

Florida (2-1) also got got three field goals from Robert McGinty covering 26, 21 and 37 yards, all after he had come up short on a 50-yard attempt on the Gators' first possession.

Florida's defense applied pressure throughout the game on quarterback David Smith, sacking him five times for losses of 39 yards.

The Gators also bottled up Tide star Bobby Humphrey, holding him to 73 yards. Humphrey, who set a Tide rushing record with 1,471 yards last year, gained 220 a week ago against Penn State.

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