Florida 48, Kentucky 10

No. 15 Florida runs all over Kentucky 48-10

Gators rush for 405 yards in 25th straight win

jtipton@herald-leader.comSeptember 25, 2011 

Through clenched teeth, Kentucky's co-defensive coordinator, Rick Minter, vividly described Saturday night's 48-10 loss to Florida.

"Lightning struck the outhouse," he said, "and we were in it."

Yes, Kentucky had, uh, a stinky performance in losing for the 25th straight time to Florida.

Minter was "totally embarrassed" that the Gators amassed 405 yards rushing, the most Kentucky has given up since Indiana gained 564 in 1994. It was the most a Florida team has rushed for since gaining 466 against New Mexico in 1989.

"That was a totally unacceptable level of performance," Minter said.

UK Coach Joker Phillips lamented the offense's substandard play, which included four turnovers (all leading to Florida scoring drives of 45 yards or less).

"You can't give many teams a short field and survive," Phillips said. "You definitely can't give that to the team we faced."

Calling the Cats "a sloppy team," Phillips said, "Our mistakes were a huge indicator of what the score is."

As the Florida lead grew, the Commonwealth Stadium crowd thinned. Most seats were empty by the time another dreadfully familiar Florida-Kentucky game mercifully reached its conclusion.

UK's quarter-century of futility against Florida extended the fourth-longest losing streak a college program has ever endured. As if to tease Kentucky, which also owns the third-longest losing streak ever (26 in a row to Tennessee), Florida nearly matched its average margin in the winning streak: 42.5-17.4.

For those counting, it marked the fifth straight time the Gators scored 41 or more points against Kentucky.

Yet Phillips did not see a superior program whip its inferior opponent.

"I don't think turnovers have anything to do with talent (differential)," he said.

Florida improved to 4-0 with a victory over Kentucky for the third straight season, and for the fifth time in the last seven years.

The speed Kentucky feared blazed brightly. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey each rushed for more than 100 yards. Demps' 157 yards bested his previous career high of 139 against South Florida in 2010. Rainey added 105, giving him a third straight game over the century mark.

Demps called the game "a big party."

With Phillips saying he had to instill a greater appreciation for ball security, the schedule gets even tougher. Kentucky (2-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) plays at No. 2 Louisiana State next weekend.

Quarterback Morgan Newton threw two interceptions, and the Cats fumbled the ball away twice. With so little margin for error against Florida, the turnovers killed Kentucky.

By halftime, UK was well on the way to another loss to Florida. The Cats trailed 31-10. But it could have been worse, perhaps why the players heard cheers as they left the field.

A UK touchdown with 1:18 left in the second quarter set the halftime score. La'Rod King tipped a 19-yard pass to himself in the end zone.

UK had the advantage in field position to start the game but had nothing to show for it. The Cats started their first two possessions at the 37- and 36-yard lines. Florida opened its first two possessions at its 12 and 8-yard lines.

Then that lightning Minter spoke of hit the UK outhouse. A fumble by freshman Josh Clemons opened the floodgates, and 21 Florida points poured through in less than five minutes.

Set up at UK's 45-yard line by Clemons' fumble, Florida needed one play to score: a pass from quarterback John Brantley to tight end Gerald Christian.

After UK went three and out, Demps sped 20 yards for another touchdown. That made two Florida TDs in 2:26.

Safety Matt Elem's interception ended UK's next possession. After Rainey ran 27 yards, short-yardage specialist Trey Burton plunged 1 yard for a third Gator touchdown in the first quarter.

At that point, Florida had outgained UK 144-30.

After a Kentucky field goal late in the first quarter made it 21-3, marking the first time since 2007 UK scored in the first quarter against the Gators, Florida used a UK turnover to score again. Newton got hit as he set to pass from near his own goal line. The ball leaked out to defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who had only to rumble 2 yards to score with what was deemed a fumble recovery.

"They're good," UK receivers coach Tee Martin said of the Gators. "If there's a D-line better than them, they should be in the NFL."

Hope for Kentucky emerged in the final minutes of the half. In addition to narrowing their deficit during the span, the Cats knocked out Brantley. His replacement, freshman Jeff Driskel, fumbled on his second play. That set up UK's late touchdown.

Perhaps indicative of its superiority, Florida had 14 plays that gained 10 or more yards in the first half. Kentucky had four.

In the third quarter, Florida dashed any flickering hopes of a Kentucky comeback.

A 49-yard Ryan Tydlacka punt pinned the Gators at their 1-yard line. Three running plays got Florida a first down. Then two plays later, Demps sprinted 84 yards for a touchdown. That tied for the sixth-longest scoring run by a Florida player and the longest since Emmitt Smith went 96 yards for a touchdown against Mississippi State in 1988.

"The hole was just big," Demps said in explaining the run that made it 38-10.

In the fourth quarter, junior Mike Gillislee sprinted 60 yards for yet another Florida touchdown that showcased team speed. That gave him 84 yards for the game.

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