Gators build big lead, hold off Gamecocks, 38-24
Trask-to-Pitts connection working wonders for Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Kyle Trask passed for four touchdowns and third-ranked Florida scored 24 unanswered points spanning the second and third quarters to pull away from visiting South Carolina, 38-24 on Saturday in front of 15,120 socially-distanced fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida improves to 2-0 in the SEC’s 10-game conference-only schedule.
Two of Trask’s touchdowns went to Kyle Pitts as the Gators' quarterback-tight end combination continues to be among the most prolific in the county. Trask completed 21 of 29 passes for 268 yards while Pitts caught four passes for 57 yards.
Pitts now owns 12 career touchdown receptions, tied for the most in Florida history among tight ends. Half of those have come in the season’s first two games.
After allowing 613 yards to Ole Miss a week ago, Florida’s defense started off shaky again. South Carolina went 75 yards in 12 plays on its first drive to open the scoring, culminating in a Kevin Smith rushing touchdown from two yards out. The Gamecocks took an early 7-0 lead.
The Gators answered with their own 75-yard drive that lasted eight plays. Dameon Pierce carried five times for 27 yards on the possession and punched it in from two yards out to tie the game, 7-7.
Florida forced a three-and-out, and the Gator offense took over again. Trask found Pitts for their fifth touchdown connection of the season from 13 yards out, and Florida led after one quarter, 14-7. Trask completed all seven of his passes in the quarter.
Trask committed his first turnover of the season early in the second quarter. South Carolina recovered a Trask fumble at the Gator 48-yard line and drove in to tie the game at 14-14. Collin Hill found Shi Smith for four yards on third and three for the score.
The Gators took 5:54 more off the clock on their next drive covering 54 yards and 13 plays. Evan McPherson booted a 26-yard field goal to make it 17-14 Gators. Following a three-and-out forced by the Gator defense, Trask found Pitts for the second time in the half for a touchdown, a four-yarder to make it 24-14 at halftime.
South Carolina fumbled away a chance to get back into the game early in the third quarter, and linebacker Ventrell Miller recovered for the Gators at the Gamecock 38-yard line. Four plays later, Florida found the end zone again, as redshirt freshman Trent Whittemore hauled in his first collegiate touchdown, a four-yard pass from Trask. Florida led, 31-14.
Senior receiver Kadarius Toney also enjoyed a big game with six catches for a career-high 86 yards. In the third quarter, Toney took a seven-yard pass from Trask and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown in which he broke three tackles en route to the end zone. It was Trask’s fourth and final touchdown pass of the day.
Ten straight Gamecock points closed the scoring, helped by five straight fourth down conversions.
In addition to the paid attendance, there were also over two thousand cardboard cutouts filling seats.
Florida has won the last three meetings against South Carolina, including a 35-31 victory in Gainesville in 2018 and a 38-27 win in Columbia last season.
Florida has a road test at 13th-ranked Texas A&M next Saturday.
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