No. 22 Florida 52, Middle Tennessee 16
Oct. 16, 2004
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Chris Leak threw three touchdown passes, DeShawn Wynn scored three times and No. 22 Florida rebounded from a home loss to LSU with a 52-16 victory against Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
Leak, who was 15-of-33 for a season-low 142 yards in a 24-21 loss to the Tigers, completed 17 of 22 passes for 316 yards against the Blue Raiders (2-4).
He was rarely pressured, giving him plenty of time to find open receivers. He had TD passes to O.J. Small, Andre Caldwell and Chad Jackson before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Wynn ran for 81 yards, and Ciatrick Fason added 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Defensively, the Gators (4-2) gave up more yards than they wanted. But for the most part, they kept Middle Tennessee out of the end zone.
Clint Marks, who completed 30 of 34 passes for 447 yards with four touchdowns last week against Arkansas State, was hurried all afternoon and threw two interceptions.
The game went about like expected: a mismatch from the opening kickoff. It was supposed to be played as the season opener but was postponed six weeks because of Hurricane Frances.
The Swamp was about half empty when the fourth quarter started. The game was considered a sellout even though there were thousands of empty seats. The reasons? The weak opponent, it was the fourth consecutive home game, it was an early start and the Gators already have two losses.
Nonetheless, Florida was ready from the start.
The Gators scored on their first four possessions and led 24-3. They also scored touchdowns on all three drives in the third quarter, opening up a 36-point lead.
After forcing the Blue Raiders to punt to open the third, Leak found Jackson for a 33-yard touchdown that made it 38-13. It was the second one-play scoring drive of the game. Leak had a 62-yard TD pass to Caldwell early in the second quarter.
Colby Smith hit his third field goal for Middle Tennessee to make it 38-16, but the Gators quickly answered.
Leak hooked up with Dallas Baker for a 41-yard gain, and then Fason ran 20 yards on the next play to make it 45-16.
But Leak wasn't done.
Middle Tennessee - which fell to 0-8 against ranked opponents since joining Division I-A in 1999 - punted for the fifth time, and Leak quickly drove the Gators back down the field. Wynn capped the drive with a 9-yard score. He also has TD runs of 5 and 15 yards.
The Gators were short-handed on defense, playing without two starters. Linebacker Channing Crowder and safety Jarvis Herring were suspended in July for the Middle Tennessee game after an alleged dispute with police. Reserve running back Skyler Thornton also was suspended for the game, but for another off-the-field incident.