GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Despite 118 yards on 29 carries by quarterback Dontrell Jackson and two first-half field goals by Kevin Kerr, the Ohio football team lost to #12 Florida 34-6 Saturday at The Swamp.
Bop White intercepted a pass from the Gator’s Heisman-hopeful Rex Grossman on the game’s opening drive and Kerr capitalized on a 48-yard field goal to give Ohio an early 3-0 lead. The field goal, which came at 11:46 in the first quarter, made Kerr the Bobcats’ all-time field goal leader after missing eight tries in a row dating back to last season.
After lightening and tropical storm Hanna caused a 50-minute game delay, a two-yard touchdown run by Earnest Graham gave Florida a 7-3 lead with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Kerr then followed up a 20-play drive with a 20-yard field goal to pull the Bobcats within one at the 6:06 mark in the second quarter. The Bobcats converted on two fourth-down plays during the 62-yard drive that took 9:45 off the clock and stalled at the Gator three-yard line.
"I was pleased with our first-half performance," Knorr said. "I would have liked to have knocked that second field goal in for a touchdown but I thought our guys played well that first half."
Tight end Aaron Walker caught an 18-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds left in the second quarter to give Florida a 14-6 halftime advantage.
The Bobcats gained 124 yards, all on the ground, on 37 plays in the first half compared to 172 yards on 32 plays for the Gators. Grossman completed nine of 17 passes for 126 yards including one touchdown pass and an interception. Jackson had 75 yards on 14 carries to lead Ohio in the first half. The Bobcats won the time-of-possession battle 19:19-10:41.
"I thought we made a lot of progress just from the toughness standpoint," said Bobcat head coach Brian Knorr. "Offensively we took the fight to them and defensively our kids were attacking all night long."
Ran Carthon's five-yard touchdown run gave Florida a 21-6 lead with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter. The Gators had converted on a fourth-down-and-five from the Bobcat 22 to keep the drive going.
Graham scored his second touchdown of the game on a 40-yard run to give Florida a 28-6 lead with 13:34 left in the fourth quarter.
A one-yard touchdown run by Willie Green extended Florida's lead over Ohio to 34-6 with 7:21 remaining in the game. The Gators failed on the extra-point attempt.
"We had some opportunities (to make big defensive plays) in the third quarter," Knorr said. "If we come up with one of those, you never know because this place was turning a little bit on them. We could have made it a better game if we would have came up with a couple of those interceptions."
The Bobcats (0-3) travel to Connecticut next Saturday for a noon contest against the Huskies before beginning their Mid-American Conference season by hosting Buffalo at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28.