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Florida gets another easy win over Kentucky

The SportsXchange

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Matt Jones became the second Florida Gator this season to rush for more than 100 yards, Tyler Murphy completed his first 13 passes in his initial college start and the defense held Kentucky to 59 yards in the second and third quarters in Florida's 24-7 win on Saturday.

Jones ran for 176 yards on 28 carries and scored once, while Murphy hit 15-of-18 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown as Florida beat Kentucky for the 27th straight time. The Wildcats have not won in this series since 1986.

"I had a few nerves just like every game,'' Murphy said. "I was able to hand off the ball to Matt Jones and throw a swing route (in the first drive) to get the offense going. I was then able to settle down. I felt real calm as I had the support of my teammates. They made my job real easy.''

Florida's opening drive went 93 yards and took up over seven minutes -- the longest in terms of both time and yardage this season -- before Jones scored from two yards out.

It was just the second touchdown scored in the first quarter this season by the Gators.

Kentucky came right back when holder Jared Leet flipped the ball to kicker Joe Mansour on a fake field goal try and Mansour ran 25 yards untouched for the score with 1:46 left in the first quarter. It was Kentucky's second TD in the last three meetings with Florida. The Gators shut out the Wildcats last season.

Florida's Austin Hardin missed a 53-yard field goal, his third miss in six tries this season.

Jones gained 66 yards the next time UF got the ball but was accidentally tripped up by teammate Quinton Dunbar, who was behind Jones trying to block. But two plays later, Murphy hit Trey Burton for a 9-yard score. Murphy ended the half perfect on 11 attempts. It was Burton's 20th career touchdown, eight which have come against UK.

"Real proud of Matt,'' Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "I pulled Matt in Monday and I said, 'Man, you need to cut it loose and play.'''

Jones had been tentative after battling a virus infection in the preseason.

Murphy made it 21-7 with another long drive at the end of the second quarter, this one covering 62 yards and ending with the junior quarterback's 5-yard TD run.

"They can control the line of scrimmage,'' UK coach Mark Stoops said. "They make it very difficult to run the ball. They outnumber you all the time with big, physical dudes. Then you have to beat them outside.''

UK was held to 48 yards rushing (2.3 per rush) and 173 yards total offense. At the same time Florida had 246 yards on the ground (5.5 per attempt). Jones carried the ball 18 times in the second half.

It was Florida's first game without starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, who is out for the season with a broken leg suffered in last week's 31-17 win against Tennessee. It was also the second week in a row that Murphy answered the bell.

Florida's defense virtually closed the door on the Wildcats' offense.

Kentucky had just three first downs and 59 yards on 22 plays in the second and third quarters.

Kentucky threatened to score and make it a tighter game with one decent drive in the third quarter, but Florida (3-1) finished off the struggling Wildcats (1-3) with a 15-play drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal by Hardin to make it 24-7 with 10:49 left in the game.

NOTES: The Gators also lost star defensive tackle Dominique Easley this past week with a season-ending knee injury, while defensive back Brian Poole was suspended for the first half after being ejected against Tennessee for "targeting." ... Standout OL Jon Halapio is playing with a brace after a preseason torn pectoral muscle, making just his second start of the year vs. Kentucky. ... The game featured the return of Joker Phillips, who spent 23 years in Lexington as coach, assistant coach and player. Phillips, who was fired after three years (2010-12) as Kentucky's coach, is Florida's wide receivers coach. ... Florida has outscored Kentucky 262-43 in the last six meetings. ... Kentucky came into the game ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring offense (26.7 points a game) while the Gators were last (23.7).
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