Associated Press

No. 3 Georgia hands Florida its worst Cocktail Party beating in 35 years

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No. 3 Georgia and Florida met up in Jacksonville for their annual Cocktail Party. The Gators were sent home early, while the folks in red and black will party their way back to Athens. The Bulldogs knocked out the Gators in the first half of the first quarter and cruised from there, taking home a 42-7 victory, the program’s largest over Florida since a 44-0 whipping in 1982.

Georgia opened the game by pushing Florida nine yards backward in a three-and-out, then scored in four plays, keyed by a 39-yard pass from Jake Fromm to D’Andre Swift. Playing in what seems like his 11th Cocktail Party, Nick Chubb punched in the opening score from six yards out.

Feleipe Franks was intercepted on Florida’s next possession, and Fromm capitalized by hitting Javon Wimms for a 17-yard touchdown strike.

Georgia forced another three-and-out on Florida’s next possession, and Sony Michel, also playing in his 11th Cocktail Party, got in on the fun with a 74-yard touchdown run on the first play of Georgia’s third possession.

Michel’s run made the score 21-0 Georgia — at the 7:32 mark of the first quarter.

The score remained there until the middle of the third quarter, when Michel again busted free, this time for a 45-yard score. Georgia pushed the lead to 35 on the ensuing possession when J.R. Reed sacked Franks, forced a fumble in that sack and then returned that sack for a touchdown.

After another long completion from Fromm to Swift, Elijah Holyfield added a capper on a 39-yard burst. Chubb and Michel combined to rush 19 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns, and Holyfield added 49 yards and a score on four carries.

Franks’s first Cocktail Party went decidedly different than Fromm’s. He hit 7-of-19 passes for 30 yards with an interception and was credited as the Gators’ leading ball-carrier with nine attempts for minus-15 yards. Malik Zaire entered the game in mop up duty and got the Gators on the board, rushing and passing for 66 yards on a 71-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard Mark Thompson touchdown plunge with 2:42 remaining, narrowly avoiding Florida’s first shutout since 1988.

Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) can clinch the SEC East if Tennessee beats Kentucky later tonight and the Bulldogs best South Carolina in Athens next week. Florida (3-4, 3-3 SEC) will need to win three of its final five games to reach a bowl game. Oh, and Florida AD Scott Stricklin is reportedly exploring firing Jim McElwain with cause over his death threats claim last week.

Georgia putting a hurting on Florida

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There was a (false) rumor earlier today that this could be Jim McElwain‘s final game as Florida’s head coach. McElwain may wish that was true right now, as his Gators trail Georgia 21-0 after a first half that wasn’t as close as the final score.

Georgia opened the game by pushing Florida nine yards backward in a three-and-out, then scored in four plays, keyed by a 39-yard pass from Jake Fromm to D’Andre Swift. Playing in what seems like his 11th Cocktail Party, Nick Chubb punched in the opening score from six yards out.

Feleipe Franks was intercepted on Florida’s next possession, and Fromm capitalized by hitting Javon Wimms for a 17-yard touchdown strike.

Georgia forced another three-and-out on Florida’s next possession, and Sony Michel, also playing in his 11th Cocktail Party, got in on the fun with a 74-yard touchdown run on the first play of Georgia’s third possession.

Michel’s run made the score 21-0 Georgia — at the 7:32 mark of the first quarter.

Florida finally put together a sustained offensive possession, consuming the entire first half of the second quarter, in moving from their own 14-yard line to the Georgia 4, but Lamical Perine could not convert a 3rd-and-2 and Franks fired incomplete on fourth down to end a 15-play, 82-yard march in a turnover on downs.

Franks closed the half hitting 6-of-15 passes for 25 yards with an interception. Perine has carried 10 times for 71 yards, and Malik Davis added 20 yards on four carries.

Michel has rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on just five carries, while Chubb racked up 74 yards yards and a score on eight attempts. Fromm attempted only four passes, hitting two of them for 56 yards and a score.

Georgia will receive to open the second half.

Seven suspended Florida players to enter pretrial intervention

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At least legally, a handful of Florida Gators finally have some breathing room.

According to the Associated Press, seven UF football players — junior wide receiver Antonio Callaway, junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, junior running back Jordan Scarlett and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells — will enter a pretrial intervention program that could result in felony charges against them being dropped.  If the players make restitution and “comply with probation protocols,” the charges will be dismissed.

That’s provided a judge signs off on the recommendation of the state’s attorney, who filed the paperwork with the courts Thursday.  It’s expected to take a couple of weeks for the judge to process the requests.

All seven of the players, along with redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, have been suspended in connection with the misuse of scholarship money in general and, specifically, for making improper charges on their student IDs at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash.  A police investigation stemming from the allegations led to the felony charges being filed a month ago.

While this legal hurdle has been cleared, they still haven’t been cleared to return to the playing field.  The AP writes that “[t]hey have to go before the university’s Student Code of Conduct Committee to determine potential punishment.”

As for Smith and Telfort, they remain the subjects of an ongoing police investigation that’s related to the initial charges. It was reported in late February that the Gainesville Police Department had recommended four additional felony charges be filed against Smith.

Texas A&M boots its way past Florida in battle for second-tier SEC supremacy

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Texas A&M’s offense struggled for much of the night, but the Aggies’ defense and special teams were enough to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to win yet another to-the-wire game, besting Florida 19-17 in Gainesville.

Florida led 10-3 after a largely uneventful first half, and the Aggies pulled even after Kellen Mond accounted for 60 yards of on a 6-play, 55-yard drive (not a misprint), culminating the march in a 9-yard run at the 11:12 mark of the second quarter.

The score remained deadlocked at 10-10 through the end of the third quarter, until Feleipe Franks twisted and turned his way to a career-long 79-yard run, setting up a 6-yard Dre Massey rush on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M moved the ball inside the Florida red zone on each of its next two drives but could not convert on either trip, forcing the second and third Daniel LaCamera field goals. The Aggies forced a Florida punt trailing 17-16 with 6:35 to go and took over at the Gators’ 24-yard line thanks to a 43-yard Christian Kirk punt return and a 15-yard personal foul flag.

However, a third consecutive drive ended short of the end zone, forcing a 32-yard LaCamera field goal to put the Aggies in front, 19-17.

Florida took over at its own 25 with 58 seconds left needing only a field goal to win the game. They wouldn’t get the chance, though, because Franks was intercepted by Tyrel Dodson on the first play of the drive to seal the win for the Aggies. Texas A&M won despite Mond completing 8-of-24 passes (for 180 yards with an interception) and the ground game accounting for just 83 yards on 38 carries.

Florida has to swallow a loss in which it ran 42 times for 242 yards and Franks completed 17-of-26 passes, but for only 129 yards with two costly interceptions.

The win pushes the Aggies to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC with a real opportunity to make a second-half run and save Kevin Sumlin‘s job. Texas A&M is off next week and closes with five straight winnable games: consecutive home games against Mississippi State, Auburn and New Mexico, and road trips to Ole Miss and LSU.

Florida, meanwhile, dropped to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in SEC play. The Gators will also take next week off, but no layups await them on the other side of the bye. Florida will play next in Jacksonville against No. 4 Georgia.

Florida could be without five starters vs. Texas A&M

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Florida hosts Texas A&M on Saturday, but the Gators could be without a handful of starters. Literally.

Head coach Jim McElwain confirmed Monday that wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, safety Chauncey Gardner, guard Brett Heggie, and linebacker Jeremiah Moon will not practice today. Cleveland missed Florida’s 17-16 loss to LSU with an ankle injury.

Safety Nick Washington has already been ruled out for Texas A&M after aggravating a shoulder injury.

Additionally, freshman Kadarius Toney is “highly questionable” for Saturday with a shoulder injury of his own. Toney has rushed 12 times for 118 yards and a touchdown and caught 11 passes for 107 yards on the year.

“You’re going to see down some guys, but at the same time, we’re going to have some guys step up,” McElwain said.

Florida is 3-2 on the year and 1-1 in SEC play after last week’s loss. The Texas A&M game represents a turning point outing to see if the Gators — or anyone, for that matter — will challenge No. 4 Georgia for SEC East supremacy. Florida faces the Bulldogs in Jacksonville after a bye week on Oct. 28.