Gators deal with Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in the Northeast U.S. last week, but members of the Florida Gators were feeling the effects thousands of miles away.

As Sandy rushed toward the East Coast, Josh Evans and Dominique Easley were preparing to face Missouri in Florida’s final Southeastern Conference game of the season.

Each has family in the Northeast who were affected by the storm and were forced to play while their thoughts and prayers were elsewhere.

“It was very scary,” Evans said. “I kind of had a chip on my shoulder this weekend just trying to go out there and play herder for my family and what they are going through and the lives that were lost back in New Jersey and New York and Connecticut.”

As of Saturday, the death toll from Hurricane Sandy was 110. Of those, 48 lives were claimed in New York alone.

Easley, who is from Staten Island, N.Y., continued his strong play on Saturday. He finished the game with four tackles and combined with freshman Jon Bullard to sack James Franklin in Florida’s 14-7 win.

Evans built on his team-leading tackle total, finishing the game with 12 tackles to raise his season total to 62. He also intercepted a pass in the end zone with fewer than 10 seconds remaining to clinch the victory for the Gators.

The junior safety said though times have been difficult, he wanted to give his family something to smile about.

“It had me a little emotional this weekend to just go and play my heart out,” he said. “It’s been tough.”

Teammates noticed the added intensity from Evans and Easley.

“We knew what they was going through and what was happening,” Lerentee McCray said. “They came out and played their hearts out.”

It is estimated that 1.3 million homes and business are still without power as the states affected by the storm attempt to recover from the damage.

Evans, who is from Irvington, N.J., said his family is going on two weeks without power, but things are looking up.

“Things are starting to change now,” he said. “They are starting to get some things worked on.”