Gators FB Defeats UAB in Home Opener 51-3

The Florida Gators defeated the UAB Blazers 51-3 as junior quarterback Rex Grossman passed for 337 yards in front of a record home-opener crowd of 85,575 in the head-coaching debut of Ron Zook.

Senior receiver Taylor Jacobs broke the 33-year-old Florida record for receiving yards in a game with 246, highlighting an offensive explosion for the sixth-ranked Gators, as they belted UAB 51-3 to start the Ron Zook era in fine fashion.

Since taking over as the 20th head coach in Florida football history in January, Zook vowed his team would be balanced offensively. His team responded by piling up 643 yards of offense behind the throw and catch combination of Rex Grossman and Jacobs, and the powerful running of Earnest Graham, as the Gators (1-0) methodically dismantled an overmatched Blazer squad (0-1).

The Gators set the tone on the opening play of the game, as Grossman dropped back and hit Jacobs with a 59-yard bomb that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Graham to give the Gators a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

The Gators struck in just five plays, marching 79 yards while taking only 1:28 off the clock. Ironically, in Steve Spurrier's first game as Florida head coach in 1990, the Gators jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead over Oklahoma State with a five-play 70-yard drive that took just under two minutes.

The first quarter would end with the Gators up 7-0 but in the UAB red zone. On the second play of the second quarter, Ran Carthon bulldozed his way in from two yards out and the floodgates were opened. The kick was no good, but the Gators seized command of the game with a 13-0 lead.

Less than four minutes later, Graham blasted around the right side of the line for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Gators up 20-0. The Gators continued to pile it on as Grossman and Jacobs connected for touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to put Florida up 34-0 heading into the locker room.

In a first half dominated by the Gators, the statistics were equally impressive to back it up. Grossman passed for 306 yards in the opening 30 minutes, while Jacobs hauled in six passes for 206 yards and Graham surpassed the century mark.

UAB took the opening kick of the second half and marched 47 yards in 12 plays in a drive culminated by a 32-yard field goal by Nick Hayes for the Blazers only points on evening.

The Gators quickly responded with a field goal of their own, set up by a 63-yard run by Graham, as he followed his lead blockers through the right side of the line and weaved his way to the UAB 18 yard line.

On the game, Graham rushed for a career-best 182 yards, the sixth 100-yard effort of his career.

After piling up huge numbers in the opening half, Jacobs put the exclamation point on a career night on a 21-yard crossing pass for Grossman. The reception moved him past former Gator great Carlos Alvarez, who recorded 237 yards in a 35-16 victory over Miami on Nov. 29, 1969.

For the evening, Jacobs finished with eight receptions for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He caught passes of 59 and 45 yards and had a 54-yarder called back on a personal foul, as the Blazer defenders could not compete with his pure track sprinter speed.

Grossman exited the game after threw quarters, completing 16-of-26 passes for 337 yards to go along with his two touchdown strikes to Jacobs.

Ciatrick Fason and Willie Green each added 1-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin of victory.

The Gators now turn their attention to the No. 1 team in the nation, the Miami Hurriances, who opened the season with a convincing 63-17 over Florida A&M. The Gators and Hurricanes will be meeting in the regular season for the first time since 1987 when they face off in front of a national television audience at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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