Florida downs Florida Atlantic in season opener

Anthony Richardson rushes for longest touchdown by a quarterback since Trey Burton in 2012
Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 12:38 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After an offseason full of questions and speculation the no. 13 ranked Florida Gators answered most of those concerns, but also delivered a couple new head-scratchers in their 35-14 home opener against Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

The much anticipated start of redshirt junior Emory Jones saw little issue in the first quarter, as Jones delivered a perfect pitch to Dameon Pierce who ran into the endzone on an option play from the Owls two-yard line for the games first score on the Gators opening possession. The touchdown capped off an 11 play, 75 yard drive to begin the game.

On Florida’s next possession, Jones threw a swing pass out to sixth-year receiver Mike Wells who raced passed the Florida Atlantic defense for six more points to extend the Gators lead to 14-0. The touchdown pass was the first career td pass of Jones career as a starter and for the season. It was also the first career td reception for Wells.

After recovering an FAU fumble, Jones tossed his first career interception as a starter. He threw the pic on 3rd down from the owl 12-yard line. After that neither team found the scoreboard.

Florida’s opening possession of the second half was a mirror image of it’s first drive of the game.

Jones engineered a 15 play, 88 yard drive that resulted in another Pierce touchdown. Pierce’s second score of the game put the Gators ahead 21-0.

The two teams traded possessions after Florida’s score, but Jones gave the Owls another chance at getting back in the game when he threw his second interception of the game with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

After Jones threw his second pic, he played one more series before the Gators punted and then Head Coach Dan Mullen put Jones’ backup, Anthony Richardson in the game.

With Richardson in the contest, the redshirt freshman brought a spark to the offense and put up back to back touchdown drives.

The first, went seven plays for 73 years that culminated in Malik Davis’ first touchdown of the season.

The next drive, it took Richardson only two plays to cover 75 yards. The 6′4 quarterback took a quarterback keeper 73 yards down the right sideline to the endzone for the Gators final score the contest.

The touchdown run was the longest for Florida since Trey Burton against Tennessee in 2012.

In total, Jones was 17/27 for 113 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Richardson was just 3/8 for 40 yards, but didn’t turn the ball over and had the big rushing touchdown.

As Florida heads into the new week, gearing up to face a lowly South Florida team, who’s coming off a 45-0 beatdown by NC State, many questions now loom about who Mullen believes will be his starting quarterback. Jones threw far more passes than Richardson and led the team to three touchdowns, but he also had a pair of pics.

Richardson’s passing game still has something to be desired, but his spark as a runner and physical specimen is also worth noting in a battle between two talented players.

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