GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Gators returned to the Swamp Saturday aiming to introduce the home crowd to one of college football’s most potent and entertaining offenses.
When given the chance, Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and the Gators’ attack delivered on their promise during a 38-24 win over South Carolina despite some wobbly moments that kept the Gamecocks in the game.
Trask threw four touchdown passes, including two to Pitts, who now has six scores in two games. Senior playmaker Kadarius Toney’s electrifying, 57-yard catch-and-run featuring three missed tackles gave No. 3 UF a 31-14 lead.
But Dan Mullen’s seemingly well-oiled machine stumbled enough to keep things interesting and allow former Florida coach Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks to stick around.
A fumble by Trask early in the second quarter gave South Carolina the ball on Florida’s 48 and led to a Gamecocks touchdown against an undermanned Gators defense with seven players unavailable. Then with his team leading comfortably at 38-17 early in the fourth quarter, Trask threw an interception on third-and-10 to cornerback Israel Mukuamu on the Gators’ 39 when Toney and senior receiver Trevon Grimes became entangled on their pass routes.
The Gamecocks capitalized again, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Collin Hill to tailback Kevin Harris.
A rare three-and-out possession followed from the Gators, giving South Carolina a shot to get back into the game, down 38-24. The Gamecocks, a 22-point underdog, took their sweet time to drive inside the Gators 5-yard line, using 18 plays, taking 7:23 off the clock and converting two fourth downs before failing on fourth-and-goal from 4.
A week after Florida compiled 642 yards at Ole Miss, a record-setting day did not appear to be in cards against a South Carolina defense coached by Muschamp. The Gamecocks’ ball-control offense, though, did its part to contain Trask and Co.
South Carolina ran 83 plays, 30 more than the Gators, and had an edge of more than 12 minutes in time of possession.
When the Gators had the football, though, good things usually happened — much to the delight of an announced crowd of 15,120, a little less than 800 below the maximum capacity for Saturday’s home opener. On a partly sunny, 75-degree day in Gainesville, UF also announced it sold 2,348 cardboard cut-outs with photos of fans that cost $99 apiece were displayed around the stadium.
The smattering of fans during UF’s first home game during the coronavirus pandemic delivered more energy than expected in the cavernous setting at the 88,548-seat stadium.
This included the man who made the program synonymous with high-octane offenses for two decades. Responding to a halftime comment that the Gators were doing well, Steve Spurrier exclaimed, “And doing it with offense.”
Trask once again led the way, finishing 21-of-29 passing for 268 yards. The redshirt junior completed his first seven passes to lead the Gators to a pair of touchdowns, including a 13-yard pass to Pitts.
Florida did not let up from there until late in the game. Following Toney’s touchdown, the Gators had scored on 15 of 19 possessions in 2020, including 11 touchdowns.
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