GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 3 Florida was nearly flawless onoffense in its season opener, a 51-point, 642-yard barrage that seta school record. Two turnovers a week later made the Gators lookvulnerable.
Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts hooked up for two more touchdowns,continuing their hot start and leading Florida to a 38-24 victoryover South Carolina on Saturday.
It wasn’t as clean as the Gators (2-0) had hoped, especiallyconsidering they were at home in the Swamp, but they’ll take it andmove on.
“We expect to score every single time we have the ball and weshould have scored every time we had the ball,” Trask said.
Trask completed 21 of 29 passes for 268 yards and fourtouchdowns. But his first-half fumble and fourth-quarterinterception kept the Gamecocks (0-2) in it.
Pitts finished with four receptions for 57 yards, commandingextra attention and beating South Carolina’s top defenders. Henearly made a one-handed catch in the third quarter, but the ballslipped off his left fingertips.
The K2K connection now has six touchdowns in two games, one morethan it notched in 2019. The next performance comes at Kyle Field,where Texas A&M will try to become the first SoutheasternConference opponent to slow down Trask and Pitts in 2020.
Some thought former Florida coach Will Muschamp and hisGamecocks would find a way. But the Gators had their way with SouthCarolina for three quarters in front of 15,120 socially distantfans in the Swamp.
Florida managed just 21 yards in the final frame, which gaveMuschamp & Co. a chance. Kevin Harris’ TD catch made it a14-point game midway through the fourth, but Gamecocks showedlittle urgency in trying to get it closer.
They orchestrated an 18-play, 74-yard drive that took 7 minutes,23 seconds off the clock. It ended when Collin Hill threw behindwide-open Shi Smith in the end zone on a fourth-down play from the4.
“It wasn’t a deliberate pace,” Muschamp insisted. “We weretaking what they were giving us. We still had a minute to play inthe game with two timeouts and an onside kick. We could go scoreand win the game.”
The Gators finished with 348 yards and punted twice, hardly whatcoach Dan Mullen was looking for in Week 2.
But Kadarius Toney turned in his best performance in four years.He had a 57-yard touchdown catch in which he somehow escaped threedefenders, turning a 7-yard reception into Florida’s biggestgain.
He ended with six receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown to goalong with 42 yards on two punt returns.
“We’re not a team that’s just force-feeding the ball to oneguy,” Mullen said. “We’re going to spread the ball around to abunch of different players.”
South Carolina: Probably needs to win next week to avoid an 0-6start. After playing Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks have Auburn, LSU andTexas A&M on tap.
Florida: Defensive issues abound. The Gators can’t seem tostop the run and are having all kinds of trouble getting consistentpressure on quarterbacks.
Harris was one of the few bright spots for South Carolina. Thesophomore ran 22 times for 100 yards and a touchdown and had fourreceptions for 27 yards and a score.
“I was just trying to win the game today,” he said. “I justdid what I had to do.”
A big reason South Carolina couldn’t keep up was droppedpasses. Muschamp said the Gamecocks had six in the opening 30minutes, including three in six plays. Tight end Nick Muse andreceivers Josh Vann and Xavier Legette each had costly drops onconsecutive possessions that ended with punts.
“We didn’t catch the football very well,” Muschamp said.”Obviously, an offense like that, you don’t answer, you putyourself in a hole.”
The Gators sold nearly 2,400 cardboard cutouts to fans (at acost of $79 apiece for the season, $29 for students) and sprinkledin nearly three dozen celebrities to the mix. The A list includedRic Flair, Tim Tebow, Emmitt Smith and Tom Petty.
Late ESPN writer Ed Aschoff, a Florida graduate whose first jobwas covering the Gators for the Gainesville Sun, had a cutout infront of the band. He was a drummer in Florida’s marching bandduring college.
South Carolina visits Vanderbilt next Saturday. The Gamecockshave won 11 straight in the series, their longest in leagueplay.
Florida takes its “Kyle to Kyle Show” to Kyle Field to playTexas A&M next Saturday. The Gators beat the Johnny Manziel-ledAggies in their last trip there in 2012.
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