Gators Swamp Herd, 49-14

In front of 84,445 raucous fans at The Swamp, the Florida Gators jumped all over Marshall in the season opener for both teams, 49-14. Florida jumped out to a 35-0 lead at the half. Poor execution in the first half all but doomed Marshall, but better execution in the second half provided some highlights.

Marshall had gone 3-and-out on their first possession, and in turn, Florida missed a field goal attempt on the Gators' next possession. Another Marshall series ended with a punt, and Florida put the first 35 points on the board, the first coming on a Earnest Graham 7-yard run with 7:02 left in the first quarter.

Just a minute and thirteen seconds later, and Graham again hit paydirt, the second TD coming on a 6-yard run at the 5:49 mark.

Florida then scored three unanswered TDs, all on Rex Grossman passes, to Reche Caldwell (28 yards), Robert Gillespie (27 yards), and Taylor Jacobs (64 yards). Florida took a 35-point lead into the half.

In the third quarter, though, Marshall started to come to life, offensively and defensively speaking. With 6:30 left in the third, quarterback Byron Leftwich connected with Darius Watts on a streaking 62-yard pass play that silenced the Florida crowd. Florida running back Earnest Graham punched in his fourth TD of the day on a one-yard run with 14:13 left in the fourth quarter, to extend Florida's lead to 42-6.

"We've got to get something going early on offense, to help our defense out," said Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich. "Every time we made some plays in a row, we came back and made a bad play, a mental mistake. That's what really hurt us early in the game."

Max Yates puts pressure on Florida QB Rex Grossman.

The Marshall offense then marched downfield in a 12-play, 65-yard series that ended with running back Chanston Rodgers waltzing into the corner of the endzone from 2 yards out for the score. Darius Watts hauled in Leftwich's heater pass in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion to make it 42-14. Florida back-up quarterback Brock Berlin hit Carlos Perez on a 25-yard touchdown pass to end the scoring with 2:42 left in the game, sealing the final score of 49-14.

Florida racked up an impressive 541 yards of offense, compared to Marshall's 340 yards. Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich was sacked five times by the Florida defense, while Marshall's defense sacked Rex Grossman twice, and intercepted him once (Yancey Satterwhite).

"This showed us, early in the season, what we have to work on and where we have to go," said Marshall coach Bob Pruett. "By doing that, I think we'll get better. One thing about our football teams is that we get better."

Marshall (0-1), now moves on to face the Minutemen of UMass next Saturday night at Marshall Stadium. Florida (1-0) welcomes Lousiana-Monroe to the Swamp next Saturday.

"Even though the score was what it was, we've got to put this one behind us," summed up Leftwich.


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