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Florida Spoils Party Again for No. 5 Georgia, 20-13

November 03, 2002|From Associated Press

There was no party for Georgia on this night. That privilege belonged once again to Florida, the team that befuddles the Bulldogs like no other.

On a night when the fifth-ranked Bulldogs could have clinched a title, Rex Grossman ruined those plans. The Florida quarterback completed 36 of 46 passes for 339 yards Saturday to help the Gators breathe life into their on-and-off season with a 20-13 victory at Jacksonville, Fla.

"This was huge," Grossman said. "It couldn't have been any bigger for us."

In a season on the verge of flaming out, the Gators (6-3, 4-2) proved they didn't need Steve Spurrier to beat Georgia. Florida won the game known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for the 12th time in 13 years, this time with Ron Zook as coach.

The Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1) could have clinched the SEC East -- their first significant title since they won the conference in 1982 -- and made headway in the national-title race on a day in which three other undefeated teams lost.

Leading receiver Taylor Jacobs left during the first series with an injured right knee that could keep him out four weeks. But trailing 13-12 early in the fourth quarter, Grossman led Florida on an 89-yard touchdown drive he called the best his team has produced this year. He capped it with a perfect 10-yard touchdown lob to Ben Troupe.

Troupe's pretty touchdown catch was a welcome reprieve from a night filled with mistakes and missed opportunities. The Gators missed a 27-yard field goal and an extra point, turned the ball over four times and came up empty on three first-half trips inside Georgia's 20.

But Georgia matched Florida error for error. The Bulldogs committed three turnovers. They netted nothing on two trips inside Florida's 20 in the second half. They went 0 for 13 on third-down conversions. D.J. Shockley had a pass that was intercepted by Guss Scott and returned 47 yards for a touchdown.

The capper came with 2:23 left, when receiver Terrence Edwards was wide open at the Florida 30 but dropped a long pass from David Greene that landed right in his hands.

Three plays after the drop, on fourth and one from the Florida 42 with 1:50 left, Greene threw high to Tony Milton, who couldn't hang on.

*

No. 12 Alabama 30, Vanderbilt 8 -- Tyler Watts threw for 176 yards and ran for a touchdown and the defense set the tone as Alabama won at Nashville to post its 18th consecutive victory in the series. The Crimson Tide (7-2, 4-1) held the Commodores (2-7, 0-5) to a season-low 162 yards and forced two turnovers.

*

No. 25 Tennessee 18, South Carolina 10 -- Playing without injured star Kelley Washington and in danger of losing three in a row for the first time in 10 years, Casey Clausen threw for one touchdown and ran for another -- scoring on a five-yard run on fourth and one in the fourth quarter -- to help the Volunteers win at Columbia, S.C. Tennessee (5-3, 2-3) has won 10 in a row over South Carolina (5-4, 3-3).

*

Auburn 31, Mississippi 24 -- Travaris Robinson's interception in the end zone with 1:52 remaining helped seal the victory for Auburn at Oxford, Miss. Ronnie Brown rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns in 33 carries for the Tigers (6-3, 4-2). The Rebels fell to 5-4, 2-3.

*

Kentucky 45, Mississippi State 24 -- Derek Abney returned two punts for touchdowns to help the Wildcats win at Starkville, Miss. Abney's first touchdown came on a 69-yard punt return to turn a close game into a rout for Kentucky (6-3, 2-3). Mississippi State is 3-5, 0-4.

*

Arkansas 23, Troy State 0 -- Cornerback Bo Mosley scored two touchdowns, on a blocked punt and an interception, to help the Razorbacks win at Little Rock, Ark. The Razorbacks are 5-3; Troy State is 3-7.

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