Florida football will get a chance to build some momentum in front of a second straight sellout crowd at The Swamp when it hosts Charlotte on Saturday night.
The Florida Gators (3-1, 1-0) are vying to score their first three-game winning streak since winning six in a row from Oct. 31-Dec. 5 2020.
"We're excited about being back in The Swamp this week and certainly you know it’s a privilege, and I think our players realize we only get to do it so many times," Florida football coach Billy Napier said. "So, we've got to make sure that we understand how sacred that is, and we got to be at our best and know who we represent."
Scouting report: Florida football vs. Charlotte: Scouting report, prediction
Florida quarterback Graham Mertz has completed 70 percent or better in three straight starts and leads the SEC in competition percentage at 75.3 percent. Sophomore running back Trevor Etienne, meanwhile, is coming off a career-high 172 yards rushing in UF's 29-16 upset of Tennessee at The Swamp last week.
"This team we saw tonight in the first half, I mean, when we're playing like that, we're a really great team," Etienne said following the Tennessee win. "We just have to be consistent and keep being that team week in and week out."
Florida football game time, TV channel, betting odds today vs. Charlotte
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
TV: SEC Network Plus
BETTING ODDS: Florida by 28
— Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 22, 2023
FINAL: Florida 22, Charlotte 7 | 10:10 p.m.
Despite some struggles offensively, Florida hangs on to defeat Charlotte 22-7 and improve to 3-1 in 2023. Trey Smack kicked five field goals for the Gators, and the defense held Charlotte to a second-half shutout and just 210 yards on offense. Florida tallies 395 offensive yards but finished 1/9 on third downs.
Trey Smack adds cushion for Gators
In a lackluster performance for Florida, Trey Smack continues to remain one of the Gators few bright spots. Smack just nailed his fifth FG of the game to put UF up 22-7 on Charlotte with 2:28 left in the fourth. A five play, 43 yard drive.
End of the third quarter: Florida 19, Charlotte 7
Despite extending their lead in the third to 12, the Gators continue to appear out of rhythm on offense. Florida totaled just 96 yards in the third, and as the quarter winded down, receiver Caleb Douglas fumbled and Charlotte recovered near midfield.
Announced attendance for Saturday night's game. Second largest crowd of the season.
Gators kick fourth field goal of the game
Trey Smack continues to arguably be Florida's MVP of the night. The sophomore is now 4/4 with his 36 yard field goal on 4th and 3. Gators lead 19-7 with 7:27 left in the third quarter. Ends a nine play, 46 yard drive which lasted 4:12.
Halftime: Florida 16, Charlotte 7
The Gators limp into the half up 16-7 on Charlotte after getting outscored 7-0 in the final 8:21 of the second quarter. The good news? Florida will get starting offensive linemen Micah Mazzccua and Damieon George Jr. back for the second half after they sat out the first half due to an SEC suspension. Florida outgained Charlotte 243-122 in the first half but scored just 13 points in three red zone trips. Gators will get kickoff to start the second half.
Charlotte gets on the board
Charlotte cuts the Florida football lead to 16-7 with 2:30 left in the first half, capping an 8-play, 75-yard TD drive with a 6-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jalen Jones. Florida's defense had held Charlotte to 16 yards on its first four drives before slipping on that last drive.
New Florida football kicker Trey Smack boots 54-yard field goal
Trey Smack boots a 54-yard field goal, improving to 3 for 3 on the night, to extend Florida's lead to 16-0 on Charlotte with 8:26 left in the second quarter. The Gators started at the Charlotte 30-yard line and actually lost yardage on the scoring drive.
The Florida Gators settle for another field goal
Florida drives into the red zone again but on a drive that goes 10 plays and 91 yards, the Gators settle for another field goal, a 23-yarder by Trey Smack, to put the Gators up 13-0 with 12:32 left in the second quarter.
End of 1st quarter, Florida Gators 10, Charlotte 49ers 0
Florida is threating to score again after freshman receiver Andy Jean made his first career catch deep into Charlotte territory. Florida quarterback Graham Mertz is 9 of 10 for 169 yards and 1 TD.
More on Florida Gators WR Ricky Pearsall's one-handed grab
Florida football extends lead on Charlotte
Florida football extended its lead to 10-0 lead on Charlotte on a 27-yard field goal by Trey Smack, who has replaced Adam Mihalek as UF's starting kicker. The Gators went 76 yards on 7 plays, but the drive stalled in the red zone. Florida coach Billy Napier could have opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 but instead opted to take the points.
Florida Gators Ricky Pearsall makes amazing one-handed catch
On Florida's second drive, Pearsall skied in the air to take in a catch with right hand on a throw from Graham Mertz.
GIVE RICKY PEARSALL HIS RESPECT pic.twitter.com/PzbRUpYBan
— Barstool Florida (@UFBarstool) September 23, 2023
Florida football scores on opening drive
Florida football takes a 7-0 lead on Charlotte with 8:26 left in first quarter as the Gators cap a 9-play, 95-yard touchdown drive with a 6-yard TD pass from quarterback Graham Mertz to tight end Arlis Boardingham. It's the fourth TD pass of the season for Mertz and the first career TD catch for Boardingham, a redshirt freshman.
Inactives for Florida football
WR Eugene Wilson III, C Kingsley Eguakun, TE Tony Livingston and LB Deuce Spurlock are out for the Florida Gators tonight against Charlotte.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Florida Gators football live updates vs. Charlotte 49ers