The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

No. 11 Gators roll past Bulldogs

1861 days ago
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- No. 11 Florida is one win away from "restoring the order" in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.

Kelvin Taylor ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns, Antonio Callaway delivered another huge play and the Gators beat rival Georgia 27-3 Saturday to move a step closer to the league title game.

The Gators also were downright dominant defensively, shutting down Sony Michel, pressuring Faton Bauta and holding the Bulldogs to 223 total yards.

It was Florida's second straight win in the storied series and 20th in the last 26 years.

This one left the Gators (7-1, 5-1) one conference victory from clinching the East, which is big part of coach Jim McElwain's edict of "restoring the order" by getting Florida back to SEC prominence.

The Gators can wrap up the East by beating Vanderbilt next week. If that happens, Florida would earn its first trip to Atlanta since Tim Tebow's senior year in 2009.

Georgia (5-3, 3-3) has few, if any, mathematical chances of winning the East. The loss was nearly as ugly as that 28-point debacle at home to Alabama in early October and surely will turn up the heat on longtime coach Mark Richt.

Richt fell to 5-10 in the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

His decision to change quarterbacks during a bye week did nothing to spark a sputtering offense. Richt benched Greyson Lambert, who failed to throw a touchdown pass against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Missouri.

But instead of turning to backup Brice Ramsey, Richt called on Bauta to make his first career start. The junior from West Palm Beach completed 15 of 33 passes for 154 yards, with four interceptions. His third came in the end zone, with Georgia trying to make it a 10-point game in the fourth quarter.

Tight end Jay Rome dropped a touchdown pass earlier in the drive and then Malcolm Mitchell failed to secure another one that ricocheted into Keanu Neal's hands. Neal's pick sent Georgia fans scurrying out of Everbank Field.

Making things tougher on Bauta, the Bulldogs managed just 69 yards rushing. Michel carried 13 times for 45 yards.

Florida put it away midway through the fourth, thanks to Jordan Scarlett's 60-yard scamper and Taylor's 16-yard score. Taylor put an ankle-breaking move on cornerback Malkom Parrish before finding the end zone for the 10th time this season.

The Gators did more damage in the first half. They led 20-0 at the break thanks mostly to three huge plays -- one from the offense, one from the defense and one from special teams.

Florida's coverage team got things going by recovering a muffed punt in the end zone in the first quarter. Reggie Davis bobbled the ball, which bounced into the end zone. Nick Washington jumped on it there for a 6-0 lead. The Gators missed the extra point, no surprise since Austin Hardin has been erratic all season.

Florida's offense struggled most of the half, finishing with more punts (4) than completions (3). But Treon Harris, making his second consecutive start in place of suspended quarterback Will Grier, was really good on one play.

Harris rolled left and flipped a pass down the sideline to Callaway, who got behind Johnathan Abram on the play. Callaway tip-toed next to the white line to stay in bounds, caught his balance and then coasted into the end zone for a 66-yard score. It was Callaway's fourth touchdown of the season, and arguably the most important other than the winning score on fourth down that beat Tennessee in September.

The defense turned in its big play on the ensuing possession. Alex McCalister came off the edge and got a hand on the ball as Bauta started to throw. The ball fluttered, and Vernon Hargreaves III intercepted it, weaved his way through traffic and set the Gators up at the 5-yard line.

Taylor did the rest, scoring two plays later. He eluded a tackler and then beat another defender to the end zone.

Taylor ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia last season, but hasn't been nearly as good since. He vowed this week, though, to put together another big game.

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org