That was the performance the Florida Gators (5-5) put on display today against the FCS Samford Bulldogs (4-6), ultimately winning 70-52. That would snap a three-game losing streak for Florida.
While the Gators were able to come back victorious during the second half of the contest, their first-half performance, and awful defensive performance overall shouldn’t be forgotten as the Gators defense surrendered 42 points in the first half alone.
By the end of the contest, Samford had scored the most points an FCS team had scored on an SEC opponent in history. The record would be made during the fourth quarter as Samford scored its 52nd point in the contest.
Breaking a three-game losing streak, the Gators are likely satisfied coming out of this one, but they shouldn’t be, and there remain very serious issues on the team’s defense, even with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham no longer with the program
During the first half, the Gators surrendered 358 total yards, including 298 passing yards for Samford QB Liam Welch.
The worst performance of the Dan Mullen-era Gators, the team simply looked out of gas from snap No. 1, with no one on defense looking interested in being on the field in Gainesville. The game had the feel of an SEC offensive shootout, a rare occurrence in the defensive-heavy conference.
Trailing 42-35 at halftime, the Gators would fight back to score 14 unanswered points in the second half, going up 49-42 to take the lead for just the second time during the contest. The tide would turn after the Gators recorded their first turnover of the game with safety Mordecai McDaniel.
It appeared that the momentum would finally be in the Gators’ favor with its defense forcing a turnover-on-downs for Samford, something they needed desperately.
As had been the case throughout the majority of the contest, the Gators offense was able to take advantage of poor play by the Bulldogs, with starting QB Emory Jones putting on a clinic through the majority of the contest, completing 25 out of 31 of his passes for 421 yards and five touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter of action.
Another impressive player worth mentioning for the Florida offense was running back Dameon Pierce who totaled three touchdowns on the day, bringing his year-long total to 13.
With Florida needing to take advantage of turnovers, they’d do just that, going up 56-42 heading into quarter No. 4, it would be Florida’s largest lead of the day, pitching a shutout during the third quarter of action.
Fighting their way back, Samford would start the contest with a trick play pass to Welch from receiver Montrell Washington. Washington would then make one of the best catches of the day for a touchdown, cutting the Florida lead to just seven with 13:59 remaining in the contest.
At that point in the contest, Washington had tallied 10 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. He also recorded a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
After the touchdown, the Bulldogs would recover an onside kick, scoring a field goal during the possession to cut the Florida head to just four at 56-52. The 52 points scored by Samford were the most ever scored by an FCS opponent over an SEC team.
While it was a valiant effort from Samford, they simply weren’t able to repeat their impressive first-half performance against the Gators. The Florida offense was simply too much to handle as Jones would also break a Florida record with the most yards ever recorded by a Florida football player at 550 yards.
That would break Tim Tebow‘s Sugar Bowl record set against Cincinnati in 2009.
The Gators would continue its offensive slaughter with two-straight touchdowns, one to tight end Kemore Gamble and another rushing score for Pierce, bringing the Florida total to 70 points on the day.
Jones finished the contest completing 28 out of 34 of his passes for 464 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran 10 times for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Though the final score gives a lot of credit to the Gators offense, it shouldn’t be forgotten what the contest appeared to be during much of the day, including during the first half when Florida was trailing at one point by 14 against Samford.
The defense gave up 521 total yards, including 416 passing yards and 105 rushing yards on the day.
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Florida Gators Offense Shows Up in 70-52 Victory Over Samford Bulldogs