Time of possession in a football game is a good statistic — as long as you are doing something with the football. A week after South Carolina had a better than 2-to-1 edge in football possession time over the Gators in a 36-14 victory, Florida once again was on the short end of possession time during the first quarter against Appalachian State.
The Mountaineers had the ball for two minutes and four seconds more than the Gators in the first quarter—and the Gators had a 21-0 lead when it was over. That’s because Florida had better than a 3-to-1 advantage in total offense—223 total yards to 71 for the visitors from Boone, N.C. The touchdowns came on three runs—a 16-yard scamper by Chris Rainey, a 3-yard run by quarterback Trey Burton and a 1-yard dive by quarterback Jordan Reed. Oh, and just so he wouldn’t feel left out, redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley was spot on, completing 5 of 6 passes for 120 yards.
Appalachian State put itself in a hole when Travaris Cadet touched the Zack Brust’s opening kickoff as it went over his head at the 7, ran back and picked up the ball and then was met by a mob of Florida tacklers at the 7. Florida forced a 3-and-out and Janoris Jenkins returned Sam Martin’s 56-yard punt 16 yards to the Florida 45 where Brantley and Rainey went to work.
Rainey ripped off a run of 9 yards and Brantley followed with an 8-yard completion to Frankie Hammond Jr. Rainey then gained 15 yards for a Florida first down at the ASU 23. After Burton ran 7 yards with Brantley split out left, the two Florida quarterbacks stayed in their same positions and Burton handed the ball to Rainey. Blocks by left guard Carl Johnson and left tackle Marcus Gilbert opened a huge hole that Rainey quickly scooted through, and Brantley got a little shove on the final defender who could have gotten to his teammate, who dived into the end zone at 11:42 to completed the lightning-quick 1:24 drive of five plays and 55 yards.
Appalachian State had better field position on the ensuing kickoff, Cadet taking it to the 32. From there, Presley opened with a 12-yard completion to Matt Cline, bootlegged for 11 more and then completed an 11-yard pass to Cadet to the Florida 34. But the Florida defense dug in, and on fourth-and-6 at the 30, Presley’s pass to tight end Ben Jordan was deflected and fell incomplete.
Florida then marched 70 yards on 7 plays in 2:43, with Brantley hitting Omarius Hines, who got away from two defenders and took the ball to the ASU 3 for a gain of 37 yards. Burton followed with his touchdown run and Chas Henry’s second straight successful PAT made it 14-0 with 5:55 to play.
Once again, this time with the aid of a personal foul on Florida’s Justin Trattou for a face-mask penalty, Presley took the Mountaineers into Florida territory before senior Lorenzo Edwards blew up a third-and-14 screen pass to Cadet after a 4-yard gain. Martin’s 29-yard punt was caught by Jenkins and Florida had 87 yards of football turf to transverse. But 9 plays later, Reed completed the touchdown drive that produced five first downs, one of them coming on a 43-yard wounded-duck pass from Brantley to Deonte Thompson, who fell on his back but caught the ball at the ASU 12. Reed carried around left end for 11 yards and a first and then finished the touchdown drive by diving into the end zone with 25 seconds remaining.