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Florida Keeps Title Hopes Alive

October 29, 2000|From Associated Press

Florida's Jesse Palmer and Rex Grossman provided the one-two quarterback punch and the defense saved the game as No. 8-ranked Florida defeated No. 13 Georgia, 34-23, Saturday at Jacksonville, Fla.

Florida Coach Steve Spurrier benched Grossman late in the first half, only to put him back in after Palmer's comeback heroics were halted because of a sprained ankle late in the third quarter.

The game wasn't clinched until Alex Brown forced a late Georgia fumble, and Grossman completed a 27-yard pass to Reche Caldwell that set up the final touchdown.

The victory put Florida (7-1 overall, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) in command for its eighth trip to the SEC title game and kept the Gators alive in the national-title picture.

The Bulldogs fell to 6-2 and 4-2.


In other games involving SEC teams: Travis Henry scored on a one-yard run with 26 seconds to play as Tennessee (4-3, 2-3) defeated No. 17 South Carolina, 17-14, before a record crowd of 84,200 at Columbia, S.C. Henry rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. South Carolina fell to 7-2, 5-2. . . . Ben Leard passed for 240 yards and No. 25 Auburn (7-2, 4-2) intercepted two passes in the final minutes to preserve a 21-19 victory over Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) at Auburn, Ala. . . . Dicenzo Miller rushed for 114 yards and Dontae Walker had 104 as No. 20 Mississippi State (5-2) posted a 61-35 victory over Middle Tennessee (3-5) in a nonconference game at Starkville, Miss. . . . Javier Beorlegui kicked a 37-yard field goal with three seconds to play as Central Florida (6-3) posted a 40-38 nonconference victory over Alabama (3-5) at Tuscaloosa, Ala. The loss could further erode support for Crimson Tide Coach Mike DuBose.


In Conference USA games in the South: Rhett Gallego kicked three field goals, including a 44-yarder late in the fourth quarter as Alabama Birmingham (6-2, 2-2) defeated East Carolina, 16-13, at Greenville, N.C. . . . Dave Ragone threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as Louisville (6-2, 3-1) stayed in the race for the Conference USA title with a 35-32 victory over Tulane (3-5, 1-4) at Louisville, Ky. Arnold Jackson caught two of Ragone's scoring passes and moved within two of Ibn Green's school and league record for career touchdown receptions with 33. Zek Parker had a career-high seven receptions for 77 yards and had two kickoff returns of more than 70 yards.


In Western Athletic Conference games: LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns and No. 11 Texas Christian (7-0, 4-0) held Rice to only 186 total yards in posting a 37-0 victory at Fort Worth, Texas. Rice fell to 2-5 and 1-4. . . . Johnnie Freeman gained 138 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns and Southern Methodist (2-6, 1-3) took advantage of five Nevada turnovers in posting a 21-7 victory over the Wolfpack (1-7, 0-4) at Dallas.

In Conference USA: Brant Hanna's two field goals were all the offense No. 14 Southern Mississippi (6-1, 4-0) could muster, but it was enough for a 6-3 victory at Houston (3-5, 2-2).


In the Mountain West: Jarrod Baxter rushed for a career-high 135 yards in 29 carries and Stephen Persley blocked a Utah punt late in the fourth quarter to clinch New Mexico's 10-3 victory in the rain at Albuquerque. New Mexico improved to 5-4, 3-1, while Utah fell to 2-6, 1-3. . . . Dexter Wynn returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and had a 66-yard return to set up another score as Colorado State (7-1, 4-0) posted a 34-22 victory at San Diego State (2-6, 2-2). .

In a WAC game, David Carr threw a career-high four touchdown passes--all in the first half--and finished with 249 yards as Fresno State (4-3, 3-1) registered a 34-12 victory over Tulsa (3-6, 2-3) at Fresno after scoring all their points in the first 30 minutes.


Chad Johnson kicked a 34-yard field goal with three seconds to play to lift Hofstra (7-2) to a 33-30 nonconference victory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (3-5). Hofstra's Rocky Butler passed for 234 yards and one touchdown and added 87 rushing yards. . . . In a Big Sky Conference game, Marcus Brady passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more as Cal State Northridge (3-5, 2-4) posted a 31-26 home victory over Eastern Washington (4-5, 3-3).

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