Football Falls at Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Montrell Johnson Jr. ran for a career-high 161 yards and a touchdown, Anthony Richardson accounted for three scores in what might have been his final home game at Florida and the Gators steamrolled South Carolina 38-6 on Saturday.
Florida (6-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) avenged an ugly loss to the Gamecocks last season, won consecutive league games for the first time in nearly two years and became bowl eligible in coach Billy Napier’s first season.
The Gators dominated from the start, scoring on their first four drives and leading 24-0 before South Carolina (6-4, 3-4) crossed midfield. Richardson opened the drubbing with a 3-yard run and doubled the lead with a 15-yard strike to Ricky Pearsall. Freshman Trevor Etienne had the play of the game: an 85-yard TD run that made it 21-0 late in the first quarter.
South Carolina’s third quarter was somehow worse than its first. Coach Shane Beamer’s team fumbled three times in its first four snaps out of the locker room, gift-wrapping three short fields for Florida that resulted in a missed field goal, a touchdown and a turnover on downs.
Florida’s defense played its best game of the season, with the highlight coming when 415-pound defensive tackle Desmond Watson ripped the ball out of Jaheim Bell’s arms and rambled 8 yards the other way. Watson was so tired that he barely celebrated when he reached teammates eagerly awaiting his arrival on the sideline.
Nonetheless, it was just the start of an hours-long party for the Gators, who finished with 374 yards rushing.
Richardson completed 11 of 23 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 96 yards and a score. Etienne finished with 100 yards on the ground.
At one point, Florida had three guys with at least 100 yards rushing — a feat last accomplished by the Gators in 1984. But Richardson lost 6 yards on a sack in the fourth before heading to the bench.
Little went right for South Carolina, which played without running back MarShawn Lloyd (thigh bruise).
South Carolina’s lone highlight was a fake punt late in the second quarter. Punter Kai Kroeger took the snap and connected with Dakereon Joyner for a 48-yard score. Joyner was all alone on the right side of the field and had one guy to beat, receiver Xzavier Henderson, for the touchdown.
SENIOR DAY SURPRISE
Right guard O’Cyrus Torrence was a late addition to Florida’s senior day ceremony, which recognized 19 guys before their home finale. Torrence followed Napier from Louisiana-Lafayette and has been the Gators’ best offensive lineman all season.
He has one year of eligibility remaining but going through the festivities likely means he’s headed for the NFL draft, where he’s widely projected to be a second- or third-round pick.1
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host No. 5 Tennessee next Saturday. The Volunteers have won three straight in the series.
Florida: The Gators play at Vanderbilt next Saturday. The Commodores upset Kentucky to end a 26-game skid in SEC play