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SOUTHEASTERN

Florida's Big Plays Top Kentucky

September 29, 2002|From Associated Press

In a game full of big plays, mistakes and momentum shifts, seventh-ranked Florida somehow came out with a 41-34 victory over Kentucky, in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday at Gainesville, Fla.

Keiwan Ratliff returned an interception for a touchdown and scored two points on a defensive conversion to help the Gators (4-1, 2-0 SEC) overcome their own mistakes and two special teams touchdowns from Kentucky's Derek Abney.

Florida's Rex Grossman threw for 375 yards and two touchdowns--both to Taylor Jacobs--but on this day, hardly anyone noticed. There were too many other crazy things happening.

Florida's Matt Leach had two extra point kicks blocked. Punter Sean Morton dropped a clean snap. Morton's replacement, Jason Hunter, had a punt blocked. Earnest Graham lost a fumble that led to a quick Kentucky touchdown. Abney had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and returned a punt 49 yards for another score.

Abney's punt return pulled Kentucky (4-1, 0-1) to within 39-34 with 5 minutes 24 seconds left, but when the Wildcats went for the two-point conversion, Ratliff intercepted Lorenzen's pass and made it to the end zone for a second time.

Ratliff's return was good for two points and a seven-point lead that the Gators were able to protect.

No. 8 Georgia 41, New Mexico State 10--Damien Gary returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown and the Bulldogs (4-0) also blocked a punt for the second week in a row, winning at Athens, Ga. Gary also caught a 20-yard scoring pass for Georgia. New Mexico State is 1-3.

No. 11 Tennessee 35, Rutgers 14--Kelley Washington had seven catches for 197 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half, as the Volunteers stumbled early but won at Nashville.

Rutgers, a 40 1/2-point underdog, took the lead when Nathan Jones returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, prompting loud boos from the crowd of 103,925. The Scarlet Knights (1-4), took a 14-7 halftime lead before Washington's receptions sparked the Volunteers (3-1).

No. 22 Louisiana State 31, Mississippi State 13-- Domanick Davis gained 295 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns at Baton Rouge, La. Defending SEC champion LSU (3-1, 1-0) has beaten Mississippi State (1-3, 0-2) in 10 of the last 11 games, including six consecutive at Tiger Stadium.

Auburn 37, Syracuse 34--Carnell Williams ran for a career-high 202 yards and his eight-yard touchdown run in the third overtime gave the Tigers (4-1) the win at Auburn, Ala. Williams scored on a six-yard run in the second overtime, and his 40 carries were the second-most in Auburn history. Walter Reyes sent the game to the third overtime with a two-yard touchdown run for Syracuse (1-3).

Alabama 30, Arkansas 12--Santonio Beard ran for 134 yards and Shaud Williams had an 80-yard touchdown run on the game's first offensive play as Alabama won at Fayetteville, Ark. Brodie Croyle had 285 yards passing and two touchdowns for the Crimson Tide (4-1, 1-0), which gained 267 yards rushing against an Arkansas defense that entered the game leading the nation in stopping the run. The Razorbacks are 2-1, 0-1.

South Carolina 20, Vanderbilt 14-- Corey Jenkins ran for 97 yards, threw for 180 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown for South Carolina at Nashville. Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3) has lost 12 consecutive SEC games. The Commodores got the ball back in the last two minutes, but South Carolina (3-2, 1-1) clinched the victory on Jonathan Martin's interception with 29 seconds left.

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