Rainey Makes History With Touchdown Trio

Chris Rainey became the third player in college football since 1996 to score a touchdown by rushing, receiving and returning a blocked punt, but he didn't seem to care. He chalked Saturday night up to help from his offense. Rainey was the key playmaker, totaling 168 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns to give the Gators a 41-3 win Saturday night.

The highlight play came on Rainey's second touchdown. He took a handoff outside, where a Florida Atlantic defender burst through the line. Rainey used a quick spin move to get around him and followed the block of right guard Jon Halapio into the end zone.

"That's a God given gift. I can't explain it, so you'll have to ask God," Chris Rainey quipped after Saturday's game. "It was just a stretch play, and I just read the tackle. I guess I read it right and scored a touchdown."

But was it planned? Rainey says no. He saw the defender flying at him and let his instincts take over.

"It came out of my toolbox," Rainey said through his normal ear-to-ear grin.

The senior led Florida with 17 touches on offense. He ran effectively between the tackles or outside of them. Despite putting up 41 points, Rainey didn't think the Gators opened up much of the playbook.

"We only did like six plays the whole game," he said. "That's it."

Rainey and Jeff Demps combined for 32 of the offensive plays. The swing passes became an early staple of the offense, as quarterback John Brantley located them well and hit the running backs in stride.

That wasn't an emphasis going into the game. Rainey said Brantley reacted to what the defense gave him.

"It really wasn't the game plan, we were just out there doing our jobs," Rainey said. "It's the quarterback just reading the defense and I guess I was open every time."

That might have been the best news for the Gators on Saturday. Brantley took the throws that the Florida Atlantic defense gave him. He didn't force too many throws into coverage, instead taking easy throws to the running backs.

Instead of playing aggressive on defense, the Owls played cautious. They covered the deep part of the field before anything else, and that's why the swing patterns were so open.

The players have been talking about the transformation of Brantley since the end of last season, but Saturday night was the first glimpse of the type of quarterback he can be.

"He looks like the old John Brantley you saw in high school," Rainey said. "He's being a leader and taking over. He's got all of his confidence back, feels good in the pocket and trusts everybody."

The touchdown that completed Rainey's trifecta came on a punt block by Solomon Patton, his second straight game with one after also blocking a punt in the Outback Bowl win over Penn State.

Once Patton got it, Rainey saw the ball bouncing down the sideline. The only complication was a teammate, Deonte Thompson, running right next to him. Determined to be the one that scored, Rainey picked up the pact.

"I saw (Thompson) on the side of me, so I was trying to beat him to it," Rainey said. "I guess I did, and I scored."

It's the enjoyment of special teams that Urban Meyer loved about Chris Rainey, and the new coaching staff has the same appreciation of it. Rainey has been a game changer in punt blocks during his career, and his return for a touchdown Saturday was the second of his career.

"I love special teams, especially punt block," Rainey said. "We work on that every day, all day. That's our favorite phase of the team. You're going to see a lot of blocked punts this year."

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