In the second-to-last non-playoff bowl game remaining, it’s a Power Five team getting the best of a Group of Five squad.
After two quarters of play, Florida overcame a sluggish start to grab a 21-7 halftime lead on East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. This is just the second meeting between the two programs, with the first coming in 1983.
And while UF grabbed what for the moment is a comfortable lead, it was ECU that actually took an early 7-0 on a Justin Hardy touchdown reception, after which the all-time FBS leader in career receptions busted out the Gator Chomp. After that, though, it was all Gators.
Appropriately enough, a defensive touchdown — a Brian Poole pick-six — opened the scoring for UF late in the first quarter.
Adam Lane, a 5-7, 222-pound redshirt freshman who could very well double as a beer keg in the offseason, led the Gators with 68 yards rushing on just four carries; entering this game, Lane had rushed for 72 yards the entire 2014 season. Lane scored the first offensive touchdown for the Gators, a two-yard run early in the second quarter that gave UF its first lead of the game.
(Writer’s note: no, I don’t know if Lane “had an accident in his pants,”)
A Treon Harris 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell eight minutes later capped the Gators’ 21-0 run.
One of the few lowpoints for UF was a rather horrific one as Antonio Morrison, the team’s leading tackler, went down with what appeared to be a significant leg injury. During the telecast, you could actually, very clearly, hear Morrison screaming out in pain, a disturbing sound that most could likely do without hearing.
Morrison was subsequently taken off the field on a cart for further evaluation by the football program’s medical personnel.
The Gators were outgained 282-161 in total offense, but only allowed the seven points.
ECU’s Shane Carden, the nation’s No. 2 passer in yards, passed for 203 in the first two quarters. He also had a touchdown and interception, one of two Pirate turnovers. The second one, a fumble by Kurt Benkert, came at the UF one-yard line late in the half as ECU was looking to cut the score to 21-14.
The Pirates did have a chance to cut the lead to 21-10 on the drive after that, but missed wide-right on a 42-yard field goal attempt with :42 remaining.