Sunday, September 28, 2003

Florida 24, Kentucky 21

Wildcats blow 18-point lead in 4Q

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Johnny Lamar's 35-yard interception return set up Ron Carthon's 1-yard touchdown run with 3:15 remaining as No. 25 Florida rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Kentucky 24-21 today.

Trailing 21-3 after three quarters, the Gators (3-2, 1-1 SEC) scored three touchdowns in the fourth to complete the biggest road comeback in school history. Florida's largest previous road rally was from 17 points behind in a 1993 win at South Carolina.

Kentucky's Taylor Begley missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt with 44 seconds left that could have forced overtime. The Wildcats (2-3, 0-2) haven't defeated a ranked team at home since 1999 and hadn't even led Florida at halftime since 1988.

But it appeared for most of the game that they would pull off the upset. Then came the fourth quarter as the Gators beat Kentucky for the 17th straight time and avoided falling below .500 for the first time in 11 seasons.

Florida freshman Chris Leak, making his first career start, completed 20 of 35 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Carlos Perez caught five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Florida scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 3-yard pass from Leak to Perez. The 2-point conversion failed and the Gators still trailed 21-9.

Florida got the ball back but Leak threw his second interception of the game with 9:49 left. Kentucky's offense stalled after making one first down and Keiwan Ratliff returned a punt 25 yards to Kentucky's 28.

Then on a fourth-and-3, Leak hit Perez for a 10-yard score to make it 21-16 with 4:46 to play.

On Kentucky's next series, Channing Crowder was about to sack Jared Lorenzen when Lorenzen threw an ill-advised pass that Lamar intercepted and returned to the 1 to set up Carthon's wining score. Leak's pass to Kelvin Kight on the 2-point conversion made it 24-21.

Lorenzen completed 18 of 27 passes for 179 yards and threw two interceptions. Arlis Beach, making his first career start, carried 18 times for 47 yards and scored all three Kentucky touchdowns.

The Wildcats scored on their opening drive for the first time this season, converting three third downs before getting into the end zone on Beach's 1-yard run.

A holding penalty wiped out an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown by Derek Abney later in the first quarter, but the Wildcats went ahead 14-0 on Beach's second 1-yard score.

A 69-yard pass from Leak to Perez set up Florida's only first-half score, a 42-yard Matt Leach field goal. Besides that pass, the Gators only managed 86 yards of offense in the half.

Abney ran 42 yards on a reverse to the Florida 6 to set up Kentucky's final touchdown, a 2-yard run by Beach late in the third quarter.


First Quarter

UK-Beach 1 run (Begley kick), 8:08.

Second Quarter

UK-Beach 1 run (Begley kick), 6:38.

UF-FG Leach 42, 5:49.

Third Quarter

UK-Beach 2 run (Begley kick), 3:23.

Fourth Quarter

UF-Perez 3 pass from Leak (pass failed), 14:55.

UF-Perez 10 pass from Leak (Leach kick), 4:46.

UF-Carthon 1 run (Kight pass from Leak), 3:15.


First downs1618
Return Yards81114
Time of Possession23:2836:32


RUSHING-Florida, Carthon 9-43, Wynn 10-40, Perez 1-10, Leak 8-0, team 1-0. Kentucky, Beach 18-47, Abney 1-42, Bwenge 9-40, Lorenzen 12-36, Boyd 2-9, Davis 1-1, team 1-0.

PASSING-Florida, Leak 20-35-2-268. Kentucky, Lorenzen 18-27-2-179, Boyd 0-1-0-0, Cook 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING-Florida, Perez 5-102, Carthon 4-47, Kight 2-46, Baker 2-20, Small 2-14, Troupe 2-13, Caldwell 2-10, Latsko 1-16. Kentucky, Gaffron 4-46, Bernard 3-22, Abney 2-25, Burton 2-23, Davis 2-16, Beach 2-10, Fowler 1-20, Holt 1-14, Bwenge 1-3.

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