Mullen earns 100th career win as Florida downs USF

Florida improves to 2-0 this season
Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - There were many questions surrounding No. 13 Florida as the Gators headed to Tampa to face lowly South Florida in their second game of the season.

The most intriguing of those questions - Who would possibly emerge as Florida’s go-to quarterback?

By halftime, the question still remained unanswered.

Emory Jones entered the contest needing to show he was capable of playing consistently great football for four quarters. But the redshirt junior did himself no favors when he went three-and-out on the Gators opening possession.

However, after that, he bounced back by leading a four play, 63 yard drive that resulted in Dameon Pierce crashing into the endzone for the game’s first points.

After USF posted a field goal to make it 7-3, Jones’ competition, Anthony Richardson, stepped behind center and hit Jacob Copeland for a 75 yard touchdown pass to increase the orange and blue’s lead to double digits. Richardson picked up right where he left off against FAU and electrified the Gator sideline and fanbase.

With a 14-3 lead in the pocket, Jones returned to the field and answered Richardson’s score with a 35 yard td pass to Xavier Henderson to cap an eight play, 67 yard drive.

The next two possessions for Florida was a seesaw attack between Richardson and Jones. Richardson found Copeland again for a 41 yard touchdown pass. Followed by Jones bursting down the field for a 33 yard touchdown run.

Florida scored a touchdown on five consecutive possessions after punting on their opening drive in the first half. Jones had the edge by leading three of those.

The Gators hit intermission with a commanding 35-3 lead.

In the second half, Jones threw two bad interceptions.

The first pick by Jones followed Florida’s defense forcing a turnover on downs by the Bulls. On the fourth play of the drive Jones immediately looked to his right, stared down a receiver, then threw it right into the oncoming arms of Medhi LaPointe for a 50 yard return, which lead to another USF field goal.

That began a string of three consecutive turnovers and 10 points for South Florida.

Jones came out after that turnover and proceeded to throw his second interception of the game and fourth of the season. He was picked off by Brock Nichols across midfield and returned 38 yards.

Once South Florida scored and cut the score to 35-13, the Gators didn’t score until 10:30 left to play in the fourth quarter. As Richardson broke off an 80 yard touchdown run. It was the second consecutive week the redshirt freshman scored on a running play from 70 yards or more.

However, he pulled up grabbing his right leg as he crossed the goal line. Coach Mullen didn’t have an official answer as to what the issue was immediately after the game.

USF did score one last, late touchdown, before the end of the game, but Florida would secure their second victory of the season with a 42-20 final score.

Overall, Jones finished the game 14/22 for 151 yards and one passing touchdown. He also had 81 rushing yards and score.

Richardson was 3/3 for 152 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also racked up 115 rushing yards and one score.

The defense earned two sacks on USF’s opening drive, but didn’t register another one the rest of the game. Kaiir Elam snagged the only interception of the game for Florida.

The Gators did allow the Bulls to score for the first time in three games against a Power five team.

Florida’s next test on their schedule is sure to be their toughest as they host no. 1 Alabama on September 18.

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