Game Notes

Florida's clock management at the end of the first half cost the Gators for the second time this season. This time, though, the team bounced back....

COLUMBIA, S.C. - For the second time this season, Florida tried to make something out of nothing as the first half came to a close. And just as it did last time, the plan backfired in the most unlikely circumstances.

With 1:24 remaining in the half, the Gators attempted to drive downfield from their own 11. But after failing to move the ball past the 23, Florida was forced to punt.

South Carolina wide receiver Chavez Donnings, a former Godby player, used the remaining 14 seconds to bolt down the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown and a 16-7 halftime lead.

Unlike the game against Tennessee, when the Gators tried to score with 52 seconds on their own 20-yard line, this wasn't necessarily the fault of Florida coach Ron Zook.

Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong called a timeout with 1:31 remaining, an ill-advised way to manage the clock. Zook took responsibility for the call, although he was not the one who made it.

"You never call timeout in that situation," Zook said. "I'm the head football coach. I'm responsible for it. But you don't call a timeout in a situation where a team has you backed up and something bad can happen. There were people yelling on the sideline."

Considering the Gators have played at their best when their backs were to the wall, the play may have helped to inspire the team.

"We talked about it at halftime about where we were at and what happened," Zook said. "I think that's a signature of what this football team is capable of doing. That's why I felt like we were going to start playing better in the second half."

Against Tennessee, this certainly wasn't the same comeback-oriented team. After giving up a 48-yard Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds, the Gators failed to revive themselves, losing 24-10.

Ratliff adds a pick

As cornerback Keiwan Ratliff continues his climb toward All-American status, Florida's opponents are starting to make his life a little bit easier.

For the second consecutive week, the senior snagged an interception in the final minute. He now has nine on the season.

With no time on the clock, Gamecocks quarterback Dondrial Pinkins heaved a desperation pass into the hands of Ratliff, helping him maintain his streak of five consecutive games with an interception.

"That was a cheap one right there, but I think I broke even now because they got me one in Georgia," said Ratliff, who was robbed of an interception after a official muffed a call.

Ratliff now owns the school record and ranks second in the nation for total picks.

Leak making history

Florida quarterback Chris Leak certainly has already joined the ranks of the most elite freshmen in the Gators' history. Now he's on track to lead the list.

With Saturday's 121 passing yards, Leak jumped Rex Grossman's 1,866 passing yards during his redshirt freshman season. He currently has 1,894.

Should Leak throw for 336 more yards by the end of Florida's bowl game, he'll break the school record set by Danny Wuerffel in 1993. The Heisman Trophy winner threw 2,230 yards his redshirt freshman year.


• Tailback Ciatrick Fason's 190-yard performance was the most for a Gators' running back since Errict Rhett had 196 yards against Auburn in 1993. It's also the 10th highest total in school history.

• Florida true freshman Andre Caldwell broke two season records for a first-year player Saturday. Caldwell's 13 kick returns for 307 yards are both the best for a freshman in school history.

• Leak said he wasn't sure exactly how many of his friends and family attended Saturday's game, but he believed it to be around 20-30. The drive to Columbia, S.C., from Leak's
hometown of Charlotte, N.C., takes about 1½ hours.

• The Gators opened the game with two true freshmen linebackers for the second time in school history. Earl Everett got his second start of the season alongside Channing Crowder. Crowder led the defense with 14 tackles for the fourth consecutive game, while Everett picked up seven tackles.

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