Time of possession in a football game is a good statistic — as long as you are doing something with the football.
And, boy, did Florida do something with it. Despite an almost 10-minute disparity in possession time with Division I-AA’s No. 2-ranked Appalachian State, the Gators scored seven touchdowns and gained 547 yards, 311 of them on the ground, in a 48-10 victory on Senior Day Saturday afternoon in “The Swamp,” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Florida head coach Urban Meyer and his staff said good-bye to 23 players, many of whom were overcome with emotion as they ran from the South end zone before the game for the last time. But only one of them – fifth-year, walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer – scored as Florida (7-4) tuned up for next Saturday’s showdown in Tallahassee with Florida State by routing the Mountaineers.
“We’re very grateful for this senior class, the leadership they provided,” said Meyer, who had emotional good-bye hugs prior to the game with Duke Lemmens, Justin Trattou, Ahmad Black (who was tearing) and center Mike Pouncey (who wore his helmet to mask his tears). “You’ll hear a lot from them in the future, football or not. Ahmad has made such progress from day one to four years later. He’s the best starting strong safety in the United States, and if I was drafting, he would be my first pick. Mike Pouncey—he and his brother (Maurkice, who left early for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers as a first-round draft pick), I saw the two of them crying before the game, and to say there won’t be a Pouncey on this team next year, that’s hard.”
The Mountaineers (9-2) came into the game with visions of repeating their stunning 34-32 upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor on the opening day of the 2007 season. Florida (7-4) quickly dashed those upset aspirations, however, by scoring on its three first-quarter possessions. Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore, who has become Meyer’s good friend and has installed bits and pieces of the Utah/Florida spread offense in western North Carolina, had a feeling it would be a long day.
“I told Coach Meyer before the game that we came in to play them at a really bad time and he grinned,” Moore said. “They were prepared. They are a terrific football team. They have so much speed and they’re well coached. You have to remember, they have a guy playing in Denver right now (Tim Tebow) that played four years here, a great leader. And, of course, they have a great leader in Urban to begin with. That’s where it all starts. He’s perfect. He’s one of the really special coaches in college football.”
Without Tebow, of course, the Gators have been looking for production on offense and have settled in on a three-quarterback system and up-tempo offense. Redshirt freshman tight end/quarterback Jordan Reed, one part of Florida’s quarterback triumvirate that includes redshirt junior starter John Brantley and true freshman Trey Burton, ran for three touchdowns and threw a 5-yard scoring pass in the second quarter to Brantley, who was split right in Florida’s up-tempo offensive spread.
Besides those touchdowns by Reed, Brantley and Beemer, redshirt junior Chris Rainey opened the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown run and Burton followed with a 3-yard scoring run.
Florida’s 547 yards in total offense came on 68 plays in 25:06. Appalachian State finished with 274 yards on 65 plays but possessed the ball for 34:54.
Brantley finished with 222 yards on 16-of-22 passing with one interception. Reed was 2-of-3 passing for 14 yards with his 5-yard touchdown pass to Brantley. Redshirt junior wideout Deonte Thompson had his first 100-yard receiving day on six receptions. Rainey led the Gators with 87 yards on 6 carries, while Reed totaled 71 yards on 11 carries and senior Emmanuel Moody totaled 56 yards on four carries and Mike Gillislee totaled 56 on eight carries.
Beemer, No. 61 in the program but No. 1 in the hearts of Meyer, his coaching staff and his players, carried three times for four yards, the final yard being the toughest. Reed provided him with a push and Beemer crossed the goal line, losing his helmet but not the football.
“Gary is one of my favorite players on our team,” Meyer said. “He’s an unselfish guy, our players love him and he’s going to be in a career of coaching. We said in the third quarter that if we got close again that we would give him the ball.”
Beemer was beside himself afterward. “It feels incredible,” he said. “I think I’m dreaming right now. It really hasn’t hit me yet. I’m sure when I go outside and get high-fived by 50,000 people, it’s going to hit me.”
For the Mountaineers (9-2), quarterback DeAndre Presley completed 19 of 28 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown. The Gators also kept the spread-offense quarterback from Tampa Middleton High School, where he was a teammate of Gator senior linebacker A.J. Jones, to just 26 net yards rushing on 8 carries.
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 that sent former Gators coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks to the SEC Championship Game as the Eastern Division champion, Florida once again was on the short end of possession time throughout the game.
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 Rainey, a 3-yard run by wideout/fullback/quarterback Burton and a 1-yard dive by tight end/quarterback Reed.
Oh, and just so he wouldn’t feel left out, true quarterback 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 in the quarter.
The trend continued in the second quarter—Appalachian State had the ball for one second less than 9 minutes but again couldn’t get near enough to scare the Gators’ end zone.
The only touchdown of the second quarter came after an ASU turnover. After Presley found Brian Quick over the middle for 2 yards, the receiver was met by senior Brandon Hicks, whose tackle dislodged the football and Black, who had tears in his eyes when he ran onto Florida Field before the game for the final time, picked up the loose ball and advanced it three yards to the ASU 28.
On first down, Brantley was sacked for a loss of five yards. Emmanuel Moody then gained 4 yards on second down. On third-and-11, Brantley fired to Rainey, who came up a yard short of a first down. Florida went for it on fourth down, and Burton got it with four more yards to spare. On first down from the 14, Moody took a handoff and raced nine yards.
On second-and-1 at the ASU 5, Brantley split left with Reed at quarterback. The 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman took a direct snap and rolled to his right before throwing the ball over an ASU defender to Brantley, who leaped and caught the ball for his first collegiate touchdown and second game in a row that he has caught a pass (he caught his own deflection last week against South Carolina for a loss of 10 yards). Chas Henry’s PAT made it 28-0 with 5:02 remaining and that’s how the half ended.
In the 12 minutes and 29 seconds it had the ball, Florida outgained Appalachian State 327 yards to 140, running three more plays (39) than were run by the Mountaineers, who had the ball for 5:02 more. The Florida yardage was almost 50-50, with the Gators gaining 165 yards through the air and 162 yards on the ground. Brantley was 10-of-15 passing for 160 yards, while Chris Rainey had 81 rushing yards on five carries. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers had just 36 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Gators got a pair of decent kickoff returns that eventually led to a pair of touchdown runs by Reed of 1 (12:09) and 3 yards (2:16) for a 42-3 lead after three quarters.
Mike Gillislee returned the second-half kickoff 20 yards and Florida started at its own 36. Brantley, Burton and Reed, with a little help from Gillislee and Moody, needed just seven plays to score in 2:51. Gillislee started the drive with runs of 3, 7 and 14 yards that put the ball at the ASU 40. After a 1-yard gain by Burton, Moody rushed off right end for 21 yards to the ASU 18. Brantley then found Hammond on a crossing pattern for 17 of the yards before Reed took the ball the final yard and Henry’s PAT made it 35-0.
The Mountaineers then used 7:15 of the third-quarter clock to get their first points of the game on a 33-yard field goal by Jason Vitaris. A couple of Florida penalties helped the drive, including a face-mask call against Hicks that gave ASU a first down at the Florida 27. Presley picked up 11 yards and a first down to the Florida 16 but then the drive stalled.
At first, the Mountaineers tried to go for it on fourth-and-4, but a false start on right offensive tackle Orry Frye ended those thoughts and Vitaris kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 35-3 with 4:54 remaining in the quarter.
Freshman Solomon Patton returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to the Florida 42 and the Gators went the final 58 yards in five plays that consumed 2:16 of the clock. Moody had a 22-yard gain on the drive, taking a handoff left from Brantley, reversing his field and then running past the Florida quarterback who then turned into a blocker. Moody was horse-collared to the ground, adding another 15 yards that put the ball at the ASU 15. Brantley then connected with Thompson for 11 yards and a first-and-goal at the ASU 4. Two Reed carries, the second one from the 3, provided the touchdown and Reed’s PAT put Florida up 42-3 at the end of the third quarter.
Through three quarters, the Gators had the ball for just 17 minutes and 36 seconds, almost 10 minutes less than Appalachian State. But they led 42-3 thanks to 434 offensive yards on 51 plays, while ASU ran the same number of plays and managed just 212 yards and the field goal.
The teams each scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Presley threw a 9-yard scoring pass to Matt Cline and Vitaris’ PAT made it 42-10 Florida with 13:14 remaining in regulation.
The Gators closed out the scoring with a 12-play, 69-yard drive in 5:18 that highlighted the running of Reed. But once Florida had the ball safely in scoring position, Reed handed the ball three straight times to Beemer, a 5-11, 263-yard defensive tackle who spent the last five years getting himself beat up—and loving it.
Beemer lost his helmet but held on to the handoff from Reed, who then supplied the final impetus by pushing Beemer into the end zone with 3:18 remaining for the 48-10 final. When he got to the sideline, the helmetless Beemer received congratulations from the offensive linemen he battled most of his career and then his coach, Meyer, provided him with a huge hug – a nice way to end his career and his last season at The Swamp, where Florida finished 4-3. Now, Florida will try to win its seventh straight game against Florida State.
FLORIDA 48, APPALACHIAN STATE 10
Game 11 / Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 / Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida / Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field
Score by quarters 1 2 3 4—Total
Appalachian State 0 0 3 7—10
Florida Gators 21 7 14 6—48
FLA—Chris Rainey 16 run (Chas Henry kick good) at 11:42. Drive: 5 plays, 55 yards, 3 first downs, 1:24 time elapsed following Appalachian State punt of 56 yards by Dan Martin and 16-yard return by Janoris Jenkins. Key plays: Three running plays by Rainey of 9, 15 and the final 16 yards (total 40 yards), the last taking a handoff from Trey Burton, darting off blocks by left guard Carl Johnson and left tackle Marcus Gilbert into the secondary and dives into the end zone with a little downfield, push block by wide receiver/quarterback John Brantley. Score: Florida 14, Appalachian State 0.
FLA—Trey Burton 3 run (Henry kick good) at 5:55. Drive: 7 plays, 70 yards, 3 first downs, 2:43 time elapsed after DeAndre Presley threw incomplete on fourth-and-6 at the Florida 30. Key plays: Burton ran five times for 24 yards on the drive; his 3-yard TD run was set up by John Brantley’s 37-yard pass to Omarius Hines, who broke a pair of tackles and took the ball down to the ASU 3. Score: Florida 14, Appalachian State 0.
FLA—Jordan Reed 1 run (Henry kick good) at 0:25. Drive: 9 plays, 87 yards, 5 first downs, 2:21 elapsed following Appalachian State punt.Key plays: Brantley was 3-of-4 passing on the drive with completions of 13 yards to Chris Rainey, 18 yards to Deonte Thompson and 44 yards to Thompson, who fell as he was being defended and caught the ball while lying on his back; Reed rushed for 28 yards on four carries, including runs of 15 yards on the second play of the drive and 10 yards on the eighth play just before the TD. Score: Florida 21, Appalachian State 0.
FLA—John Brantley 5 pass from Jordan Reed (Henry kick good) at 5:01. Drive: 6 plays, 28 yards, 2 first downs, 2:27 time elapsed following fumble recovery by Ahmad Black after Brandon Hicks dislodged the ball from the hands of ASU receiver Brian Quick. Key plays: Florida overcame a 5-yard sack of Brantley on the first play of the drive when Burton ran 5 yards for a first down to the ASU 14. Following a 9-yard run by Emmanuel Moody, Brantley split out right and Reed rolled his way, lofting a pass over a defender into Brantley’s waiting arms in the end zone. Score: Florida 28, Appalachian State 0.
FLA—Reed 1 run (Henry kick good) at 12:09. Drive: 7 plays, 64 yards, 4 first downs, 2:51 elapsed following second-half kickoff return of 20 yards by Mike Gillislee to ASU 36. Key plays: Three straight runs by Mike Gillislee totaled 24 yards to get the drive started, Emmanuel Moody raced 21 yards for a first down to the ASU 18 and Brantley’s 17-yard pass to Hammond across the middle set up Reed’s second TD run. Score: Florida 35, Appalachian State 0.
ASU—FG Jason Vitaris 33 good at 4:54. Drive: 12 plays, 60 yards, 5 first downs, 7:15 time elapsed following Florida kickoff. Key plays: ASU converted on its first two third-down plays—Travaris Cadet ran for 3 yards on the first and then ran 16 yards with a screen pass from DeAndre Presley; Florida’s Brandon Hicks was penalized for a face-mask penalty that gave ASU a first down at the Florida 27. Score: Florida 35, Appalachian State 3.
FLA—Reed 3 run (Henry kick good) at 2:38. Drive: 5 plays, 58 yards, 2 first downs, 2:16 time elapsed following 25-yard kickoff return by Solomon Patton. Key plays: On the second play of the drive, Moody ran left and then reversed his field and cut to the Florida sideline where he picked up a block by Brantley and also was horse-collared out of bounds, resulting in a first down for Florida at the ASU 15; Brantley then hit Thompson on a crossing pattern for a first-and-goal at the ASU 4. Score: Florida 42, Appalachian State 3.
ASU—Matt Cline 9 pass from DeAndre Presley (Vitaris kick good) at 13:14. Drive: 8 plays, 64 yards, 4 first downs, 4:24 time elapsed following Florida kickoff and Cadet’s 29-yard return to the ASU 36. Key plays: Presley hit Brian Quick on a sideline pass for 17 yards and Florida’s Ronald Powell was penalized 15 yards for roughing the quarterback, giving the Mountaineers a first-and-10 at the Florida 12. Score: Florida 42, Appalachian State 10.
FLA—Gary Beemer 1 run (Zack Brust kick no good) at 3:18. Drive: 12 plays, 69 yards, 4 first downs, 5:18 time elapsed following ASU punt Key plays: Gillislee ran four times for 28 yards and Reed had runs of 9, 7, 2 and 20 yards to give Florida a first-and-goal at the ASU 4; Meyer then sent in fifth-year, walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer to tailback. Beemer picked up 3 yards on his first carry, was stopped short of the goal line on his second and on his third carry, he was given a push into the end zone by quarterback Reed. Beemer ran helmetless to the sideline with the ball; he said he never located his helmet. Score: Florida 48, Appalachian State 10.
Weather: Sunny skies, temperature 76 degrees, relative humidity 41 percent, winds from the ENE at 7 miles per hour.
Officials: Tom Ritter, referee; Casey Moreland, umpire; Johnny Crawford, head linesman; Tim Beard, line judge; Bobby Aillet Jr., field judge; Chuck Russ, side judge; John Wright, back judge; James Allison, replay official.
Coin toss: Appalachian State won the flip, elected to receive and Florida chose to defend the South end zone.
Kickoff: 12:40 p.m. End of Game: 3:34 Elapsed time: 2:54.
Records: Florida 7-4; Appalachian State 9-2.
Next games: Florida at Florida State, Saturday, Nov. 27, kickoff and TV to be determined; Appalachian State vs. team to be determined in first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs, Saturday, Nov. 27.
To see the final statistics for the Gators and Mountaineers, CLICK BELOW
04 Miami (Ohio) W, 34-12 (1-0, 0-0 SEC East)
11 South Florida W, 38-14 (2-0, 0-0 SEC East)
18 at Tennessee (SEC) W, 31-17 (3-0, 1-0 SEC East)
25 Kentucky (SEC) W, 48-14 (4-0, 2-0 SEC East)
02 at Alabama (SEC) L, 6-31 (4-1, 2-1 SEC East)
09 Louisiana State (SEC) L, 29-33 (4-2, 2-2 SEC East)
16 Mississippi State (SEC) L, 7-10 (4-3, 2-3 SEC East)
30 Georgia (Jacksonville) (SEC) W, 34-31ot (5-3, 3-3 SEC East)
06 at Vanderbilt (SEC) W, 55-14 (6-3, 4-3 SEC East)
13 South Carolina (SEC) L, 14-36 (6-4, 4-4 SEC East)
20 Appalachian State W, 48-10 (7-4, 4-4 SEC East)
27 at Florida State TBA
For a rundown on the scores from Week 12 of the college football season, CLICK BELOW: