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Florida continues domination of Kentucky, 38-0

The SportsXchange

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jeff Driskel passed for 203 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 35 yard and another score in Florida's 38-0 victory over Kentucky on Saturday.

It was the Gators' 26th consecutive victory over Kentucky and the third year in a row that Florida has started the season 4-0. Now comes the real test for Driskel and 14th-ranked Florida after a week off, as LSU will visit Gainesville on Oct. 6.

"We've got to continue to press forward," second-year Gator coach Will Muschamp said. "We're not where we want to be."

Maybe. But Driskel can't wait for the Tigers' visit.

"That's why you come to Florida," he said. "You come to Florida to play in big games against LSU, two nationally ranked teams. That's why I came here to play."

Florida was sluggish at the star, but took charge with a 21-point second quarter.

Kentucky, shut out for the first time since a 49-0 loss to LSU in 2006, played without quarterback Maxwell Smith, who leads the SEC in passing.

Smith sustained a shoulder injury last week, went through pre-game warm-ups but could not go. Morgan Newton started at quarterback for Kentucky and struggled throughout.

"(Smith) wanted to go," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. "I was just not willing to do that to him or our football team. I treat him like one of my kids and I did not want to risk him to get injured and be out for a significant amount of time."

It was Florida's first shutout in an SEC game since a 52-0 victory over Mississippi State on Sept. 29, 2001.

Both teams were sluggish at the start, but Florida took the lead for good on a 27-yard field goal by Caleb Sturigs with 5:20 left in the first quarter. Driskel's career-long 38-yard run set up the score.

Kentucky's Craig McIntosh missed wide left on a 54-yard try that would have tied it.

The Gators drove 73 yards to increase the lead to 10-0 on a one-yard run by Mike Gillislee, who had 13 carries for 56 yards. Driskel's 24-yard pass to Frankie Hammond on third-and-seven from the Florida 40 was a key play in the drive.

Jaylen Watkins made Florida's second interception a Newton pass in at the 8:24 mark in the second quarter, returning it 26 yards for a touchdown. It was Watkins' first career interception and made it 17-0.

It also was the Gators' first defensive score of the season. Creating turnovers was a major issue last season for the secondary.

"Last year, the cornerbacks had, what, one interception," Watkins said. "It feels good. We are getting that monkey off our back."

Pop Saunders had intercepted Newton in the Wildcats' previous possession, but Driskel threw his first interception of the season to end that scoring threat.

McIntosh missed a second field goal attempt on Kentucky's next possession, this one from 46 yards.

"We moved the ball offensively," Phillips said. "But our turnovers didn't give us a chance field position-wise."

Driskel, who completed 18-of-27 for 203 yards, threw a 52-yard completion to Omarius Hines to move the ball to the Kentucky 23 on the Gators' next possession. It was the longest catch in Hines' career.

But Sturgis' 39-yard field goal try was tipped wide by Kentucky's Collins Ukwu, only Sturgis' second miss in 10 attempts this season.

Driskel connected with tight end Jordan Reed for a 34-yard completion with a minute to go in the half. A personal foul penalty because of a blow to the head on Kentucky's Mikie Benton moved the ball to the 19.

After two incomplete passes, Driskel hit Quinton Dunbar for a touchdown to make it 24-0 with 44 seconds left in the first half.

Driskel added his first career rushing touchdown in the third quarter, going in from one yard out.

"There are so many things he brings to the table for us because of his athletic ability," Muschamp said of Driskel.

NOTES: After having only three interceptions all season, Florida picked off three Kentucky passes in the first half. It was the first time since 2006 that Florida had three players intercept a pass in the same game. ... Florida has beaten Kentucky 46 times, the most victories against any school in the program's history. ... Mike Gillislee's first half touchdown run gave him five rushing scores this season. ... It was the first time since 2006 that Kentucky had been shut out. ... Nine players caught passes from Jeff Driskel, who played three quarters before departing. Backup Jacoby Brissett finished the game. ... Wide receiver Trey Burton missed the game because of back spasms.
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