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Defense Does It All in Florida's 52-14 Victory : SEC: Unit shuts down Georgia, intercepts four of Zeier's passes and scores three touchdowns.

October 30, 1994|From Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida's high-powered offense stood on the sidelines while an opportunistic defense made sure the No. 5-ranked Gators rebounded from their first loss of the season.

Criticized for giving up the winning touchdown in the final minute of a loss that cost the Gators the No. 1 ranking two weeks ago, the defense redeemed itself during a 52-14 rout of Georgia on Saturday night.

The unit scored twice on interception returns and also ran back a fumble for a touchdown, while holding the top offense in the Southeastern Conference to 292 yards--200 yards below its average.

"What I care about is who won the game," said Georgia Coach Ray Goff, who has lost five in a row to Florida. "You can't turn the football over four times and expect to beat many people, especially when three of them go for touchdowns."

The rain-drenched victory moved Florida (6-1, 5-1), coming off a 36-33 loss to Auburn, a step closer to the Southeastern Conference championship game for the third consecutive season.

Florida can clinch the league's Eastern Division title by winning one of its two remaining SEC games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

The defense matched the Gators' powerful offense touchdown for touchdown for three quarters. Two of the scores came in the final 95 seconds of the first half, leaving Georgia's Eric Zeier with little alternative but to throw every down to try to get the Bulldogs (5-4, 3-4) back into the game.

"We gave out more defensive game balls than in any of the 100 victories I have as a coach," Florida Coach Steve Spurrier said.

Zeier moved into fourth place on the Division I-A career passing list, completing 28 of 45 for 261 yards, but was intercepted a career-high four times before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.

Danny Wuerffel, meanwhile, made sure there won't be a lingering debate about Florida's quarterback situation. The sophomore threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the season, and Spurrier allowed one-time Heisman Trophy hopeful Terry Dean to mop up at the end.

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