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Florida's Defense Steps Up in 55-21 Victory

September 01, 1996|From Associated Press

So much for the Fun 'N' Gun offense. How about that Florida defense?

With quarterback Danny Wuerffel off the mark, the defense stole the show Saturday night with a school-record four touchdowns as No. 4 Florida opened the season with a 55-21 victory over Southwestern Louisiana at Gainesville, Fla.

Fred Weary had two interceptions, one of which he returned 65 yards for a touchdown, and a 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Gators had six turnovers and five sacks.

The defense broke the record of three touchdowns set in 1994 in a 52-14 victory over Georgia. Florida had one defensive touchdown last year.

Wuerffel, who finished third in Heisman Trophy voting last year after setting an NCAA record with a 178.4 passing-efficiency rating, was 15 for 28 for 224 yards.

No. 11 Miami 30, Memphis 7--Playing a day after starting tailback Danyell Ferguson and wide receiver Yatil Green were suspended, Miami had trouble hanging onto the ball with several dropped passes and four turnovers, but had enough firepower to win at Memphis, Tenn.

Booker Pickett blocked Drew Pairamore's punt on Memphis' first series of the third quarter, and Eugene Ridgely recovered at the Tigers' one to set up Ryan Clement's one-yard run two plays later for a 10-0 lead.

Miami benched Ferguson and Green on Friday while the university tries to conclude an investigation into charges the players spent two nights in a limousine ordered by a sports agent's office.

No. 13 Alabama 21, Bowling Green 7--Curtis Alexander rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown in a sluggish opener for the Crimson Tide at Birmingham, Ala.

Bowling Green was unable to make much happen against Alabama's solid defense. The Falcons had only seven first downs and 177 yards of offense. Alabama gained 316 yards, including 162 passing.

No. 16 Auburn 29, Alabama Birmingham 0--Junior college transfer Jaret Holmes made all five of his field-goal attempts--including kicks of 46, 47 and 50 yards--as the Tigers welcomed the Blazers to Division I-A at Auburn, Ala.

UAB was playing football at the club level only six seasons ago and before this game was thought by many to be among the worst of the 109 teams in Division I-A. But for three quarters, the Blazers hardly looked it, as the defense came up with several drive-stopping plays and quarterback Rodney Hudson led two drives into scoring range.

Southern Mississippi 11, Georgia 7--The Jim Donnan era at Georgia got off to a disastrous start as the Bulldogs were upset by Southern Mississippi, 11-7, at Athens, Ga.

The Eagles won on three Johnny Lomoro field goals and a safety.

Southern Miss, an 11-point underdog, pulled off another season-opening shocker against a new Southeastern Conference coach, with its other coming against Alabama and Gene Stallings in 1990.

Lomoro's third field goal--he missed two--came from 25 yards out with 13 minutes 36 seconds remaining and erased a 7-6 Georgia lead. He also connected from 42 and 20 yards.

North Carolina 45, Clemson 0--North Carolina's defense handed Clemson its first season-opening shutout in 22 years, and Chris Keldorf began his Tar Heel career with two touchdown passes at Chapel Hill, N.C.

Keldorf, a junior college transfer from Palomar and former St. Bernard High standout, left midway through the fourth quarter after completing 15 of 22 passes for 182 yards.

Louisville 38, Kentucky 14--Linebacker Tony Esters' two blocked punts in the first half led to scores as the Cardinals won their second consecutive game against their in-state rival at Lexington, Ky.

Mississippi 38, Idaho State 14--Artie Moore, who waited four seasons for a chance to start for the Rebels, rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns at Oxford, Miss.

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