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Florida Remains Right on Schedule

November 04, 2001|Associated Press

No. 4 Florida was the team that had everything Saturday: smooth-running offense, opportunistic defense, big-play special teams and, just as importantly, an opponent that made the Gators look great.

Rex Grossman threw for 306 yards, linebacker Andra Davis scored a touchdown and forced two fumbles, and the special teams blocked two punts as the Gators blew past Vanderbilt, 71-13, at Gainesville, Fla.

"I don't really like these kind of games," Florida Coach Steve Spurrier said. "We got way ahead real early. You could tell Vandy kind of lost its fight. Sometimes these games don't tell the whole story."

In this case, the first half told plenty.

Grossman improved his Heisman Trophy bid by making it eight for eight in 300-yard games this season. He hit the mark by halftime for the fourth time this season, throwing three touchdown passes to help Florida to a 31-0 lead.

Earnest Graham and Taylor Jacobs scored two touchdowns apiece, as the Gators, 7-1 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conferenc, led 71-0 before surrendering two late touchdowns to Vanderbilt's third-string quarterback, Benji Walker.

The victory kept the Gators in this season's national championship hunt, and gave them a confidence boost--to say the least--before the meat of their schedule. Florida's next three games are against South Carolina, Florida State and Tennessee.

"Yeah, we're that good if we play every game like this," Davis said. "If we get the buildup during the week, practice hard, it's easy on Saturdays. We can do some unbelievable stuff."

Of course, any overwhelming victory needs a willing victim, and the Commodores (2-6, 1-5)--who clinched their 19th consecutive losing season--were wretched.

Woody Widenhofer's SEC record fell to 4-33 in five years, and the calls for his job will surely grow louder in Nashville as this disappointing season comes to a close.

Vanderbilt avoided matching its worst loss in SEC history--a 71-0 defeat to Alabama in 1945--when Walker scored on a 27-yard run with five minutes left. He scored again on the last play, then fittingly, the extra point was blocked.

Louisiana State 35, Alabama 21--Rohan Davey completed 35 of 44 passes for 528 yards, the most the Crimson Tide have ever given up, and two touchdowns, and Josh Reed set conference records with 19 catches for 293 yards at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The score was tied until Reed's 25-yard touchdown catch with four seconds left in the third quarter gave the Tigers (5-3, 3-3) a 28-21 lead.

It was the fourth loss in five games for Alabama (3-5, 2-4), which entered the fourth quarter tied or leading in each of those defeats.

Mississippi State 17, Kentucky 14--Reserve quarterback Kevin Fant threw a second-half touchdown pass as the Bulldogs rallied at Starkville, Miss., to end a five-game losing streak.

Mississippi State (2-5, 1-4) used a balanced rushing attack led by Dicenzo Miller, back at full strength following an ankle injury.

Miller had 136 yards in 22 carries to help the Bulldogs control the clock in the second half.

Kentucky (1-7, 0-6) took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter when Jared Lorenzen connected with Ernest Simms on a 37-yard touchdown pass.

No. 17 South Carolina 38, Wofford 14--Andrew Pinnock ran for 86 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Gamecocks (7-2) in a nonconference game at Columbia, S.C. Wofford is 3-5.

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