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September 23, 2006

Florida gets 20th consecutive win over Kentucky

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -Florida needed some trickery and a second-half surge to beat Kentucky for the 20th consecutive time.

Chris Leak threw two touchdown passes, DeShawn Wynn had a second consecutive 100-yard game and the fifth-ranked Gators defeated the Wildcats 26-7 Saturday night.

Florida, coming off a big win at Tennessee and getting ready for a brutal, four-game Southeastern Conference stretch against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, seemed primed for a letdown.

It looked like it might be a meltdown - at least early.

The Gators (4-0, 2-0) trailed 7-6 with less than two minutes to play in the first half, but Leak directed a 78-yard drive that put them back in front for good.

Leak hooked up with Dallas Baker on consecutive plays to gain 30 yards. Leak was 5-for-5 for 60 yards on the drive, which Wynn capped with a 13-yard run. Wynn started right, cut back left and ran untouched into the end zone with 22 seconds remaining.

The touchdown followed three unimpressive drives, complete with penalties, bad throws and sacks - more than enough poor plays to irritate coach Urban Meyer heading into the locker room.

The Gators responded with a touchdown on their opening possession of the third quarter and played much better defense the rest of the way.

Leak finished 15-of-26 for 267 yards and broke Shane Matthews' school record for career completions. But he was sacked three times and intercepted near the goal line.

His first touchdown came on a trick play. He handed off to Andre Caldwell, who pitched to Dallas Baker, who tossed back to Leak. Jemalle Cornelius, meanwhile, got wide open in the end zone for a 33-yard score.

Leak also threw a 7-yard TD pass to Cornelius Ingram early in the fourth quarter that put the Gators ahead by the final score.

Baker caught seven passes for 148 yards. Wynn ran 14 times for 104 yards, matching the rushing total he had against Tennessee.

The Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) moved the ball with relative ease in the first half against Florida's defense, which had a dominant performance against the Volunteers.

They advanced into Florida territory on their first five possessions but managed only a lone touchdown - a 1-yard pass from Andre' Woodson to Maurice Grinter with 1:59 remaining.

Woodson's TD pass came two plays after a fumble that bounced in and out of Florida safety Reggie Nelson's hands. Keenan Burton recovered for Kentucky, and David Jones followed with a spectacular - and fortuitous - run.

Jones started left, juked two defenders, slammed into Woodson, cut back right, broke a tackle and nearly scored.

After Florida went back ahead 12-7, Kentucky got the ball near midfield with 12 seconds to play in the first half. Woodson completed an 18-yard pass to Keenan Burton and moved his team into position to attempt a 54-yard field goal.

Kentucky snapped the ball with 2 seconds to play and Woodson spiked it, but the clock ran out. Coach Rich Brooks protested the call, saying a second should have been on the clock. Officials talked it over, but did not change the ruling.

In the second half, the Gators clamped down defensively, holding Kentucky to 65 yards after giving up 184 in the first 30 minutes.

For more coverage of the Kentucky Wildcats, visit CatsPause.com; for more on the Florida Gators, check out GatorBait.net.

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