7:45 PM ET, September 23, 2006
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM, GAINESVILLE, FL
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Leak got booed one series, then cheered the next.
He may have been a little inconsistent, but he was good enough for Florida to beat Kentucky for the 20th consecutive time.
Leak threw two touchdown passes, DeShawn Wynn had a second consecutive 100-yard game and fifth-ranked Florida defeated the Wildcats 26-7 Saturday night.
The Gators, coming off a big win at Tennessee and getting ready for a brutal, four-game Southeastern Conference stretch against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, seemed primed for a letdown.
It looked as of it might be a meltdown -- at least early.
Florida (4-0, 2-0) trailed 7-6 with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half, but Leak directed a 78-yard drive that put the Gators back in front for good.
Leak hooked up with Dallas Baker on consecutive plays to gain 30 yards. Leak was 5-for-5 for 60 yards on the drive, which Wynn capped with a 13-yard run. Wynn started right, cut back left and ran untouched into the end zone with 22 seconds remaining.
"The was key," coach Urban Meyer said. "We were dead in the water. That obviously gave us some momentum. Up until that point, we were completely out of sync."
The touchdown followed three unimpressive drives, complete with penalties, bad throws and sacks -- more than enough poor plays to irritate Meyer heading into the locker room.
The Gators responded with a touchdown on their opening possession of the third quarter and played much better defense the rest of the way. Kentucky, which played without running back/kick returner Rafael Little and center Matt McCutchan, had 65 yards in the second half after gaining 184 in the first 30 minutes.
Leak finished 15-of-26 for 267 yards and broke Shane Matthews' school record for career completions. But he was sacked three times and intercepted near the goal line.
He was booed early in the fourth quarter when he replaced freshman Tim Tebow, who had just picked up a first down. Tebow gained 62 yards on three carries the previous drive, then Leak replaced him and threw the interception.
"I heard that, too," Meyer said. "At first, I thought they were booing a flag or a foul or something. I started looking around and I got what was going on. That's not my business. Chris Leak played his rear end off and we're 4-0."
Leak silenced his critics with a 7-yard TD pass to Cornelius Ingram that put the Gators ahead by the final score. He was cheered coming off the field and when he ran onto the field for the next drive.
"Chris Leak was not playing great, but he played very good," Meyer said.
Leak's first touchdown came on a trick play. He handed off to Andre Caldwell, who pitched to Dallas Baker, who tossed back to Leak. Jemalle Cornelius, meanwhile, got wide open in the end zone for a 33-yard score.
Baker caught seven passes for 148 yards. Wynn ran 14 times for 104 yards, matching his rushing total against Tennessee.
The Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) moved the ball with relative ease in the first half against Florida's defense, which had a dominant performance against the Volunteers.
Woodson's TD pass came two plays after a fumble that bounced in and out of Florida safety Reggie Nelson's hands. Keenan Burton recovered for Kentucky, and David Jones followed with a spectacular -- and fortuitous -- run.
Jones started left, juked two defenders, slammed into Woodson, cut back right, broke a tackle and nearly scored.
Woodson, who helped the Wildcats win their SEC opener for the first time in nearly two decades last week, was 26-of-37 for 210 yards and was sacked six times.
It didn't help that Kentucky played without running back and kick returner Rafael Little and center Matt McCutchan.
"I think we had a pretty good first half. We missed a couple of opportunities," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... DeShawn Wynn ran in a 13-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the first half to give Florida a 12-7 lead, which the Gators never relinquished.
Gameball goes to... Chris Leak. The Heisman candidate added to his already gaudy stats: 15-of-26 passing, 268 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Stat of the game... 31: Kentucky's ground game, which gathered just 31 yards on 21 attempts, was practically nonexistant against the Gators.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-13||4-9|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-2|
|TD||12:16||JEMALLE CORNELIUS 33 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||1:59||MAURICE GRINTER 1 YD PASS FROM ANDRE' WOODSON (LONES SEIBER KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||0:22||DESHAWN WYNN 13 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 78 yards.
|TD||7:41||KESTAHN MOORE 4 YD RUN (CHRIS HETLAND KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||10:04||CORNELIUS INGRAM 6 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (CHRIS HETLAND KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 33 yards.