(Saturday, September 4th)
Final Score: (4) Florida 34, Miami-Ohio 12
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Janoris Jenkins returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown in the first half and Jeffery Demps rumbled 72 yards for a score in the fourth quarter, as fourth-ranked Florida began life without Tim Tebow and struggled to a 34-12 victory over Miami-Ohio at the Swamp.
John Brantley started at quarterback following in the footsteps of Tebow, who helped the Gators to a pair of national championships in his standout career. Brantley completed 17-of-25 passes for just 113 yards with two touchdowns.
Florida (1-0) put the game away with 13 points in the fourth quarter to earn its 21st straight season-opening win.
"I had a sense (we'd struggle) when you see so many new guys playing," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "I didn't imagine the offensive incompetence that we experienced today. We made some plays on defense, but that wasn't a Florida defense yet. I looked out there one time and had to check the roster a few times to see who was out there. We have a lot of talented guys, but we just have to get a lot better."
Zac Dysert threw for 191 yards and was intercepted four times in defeat, as Miami-Ohio (0-1) kept it interesting into the fourth.
After Trevor Cook's fourth field goal of the game, a 33-yarder with 13:24 to play, pulled Miami within 21-12, Demps took a handoff on the second play after the ensuing kickoff and raced 72 yards for a touchdown to give the Gators some much-needed breathing room.
The Gators got the ball back and appeared set to deliver the knockout blow, but Mike Gillislee fumbled inside the Miami 15-yard line. Jeremy Brown, however, got the ball back for the Gator offense when he picked off Dysert a few minutes later.
Gillislee then broke off a 41-yard gain on the first play after the turnover and Brantley finally put the nail in the coffin with a 25-yard scoring pass to Chris Rainey with 1:21 remaining.
The Gators fumbled eight times, twice on bad snaps, and lost three in a sloppy game. Florida managed only 212 yards of total offense, the same amount for Miami.
"Overall, my opinion is that we played dangerous and relentless," Miami-Ohio coach Michael Haywood said. "I think turnovers and a lack of discipline cost us the football game. We have to make great strides from this point to next week and have a lot more discipline. We can't make mistakes on offense and we have to keep pressing forward and eliminating the mental errors."
Florida turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions, leading to just three points for the RedHawks. A poor shotgun snap on the Gators' first series resulted in a fumble and set up a first down for Miami at the Florida 30, but the RedHawks managed only a 33-yard field goal from Cook. The second Gator series ended with a fumble by Rainey near midfield, but Dysert was picked off by Jonathan Bostic to end the minor threat.
The Gators followed by turning it over on downs near midfield when Emmanuel Moody failed to handle a pitch on 4th-and-1, then watched the RedHawks convert 4th-and-10 with backup quarterback Ryan Kennedy's 17-yard pass. However, the Florida defense came up big two plays later when Jenkins picked off Dysert and went 67 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead 1:46 into the second quarter.
Miami tried again on 4th-and-10, but did so this time deep in its own territory and Kennedy's pass fell incomplete to leave the Florida offense with a first down at the RedHawks' 21. After three carries and a catch by Demps, Brantley capped the quick series with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Omarius Hines for a 14-3 edge.
Dysert was picked off again on Miami's next series and RedHawks running back Thomas Merriweather was ejected following a personal foul penalty on the play that left Florida with a first down at the two-yard line. Trey Burton, a true freshman quarterback, scored two plays later on a direct snap to make it 21-3.
The RedHawks finally sustained a possession and drove to the Florida 14-yard line before Cook booted a 31-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the half.
Cook drilled another 31-yard kick with just over 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter for a 21-9 game. Florida's Caleb Sturgis missed a 44-yard field goal try late in the third.
Demps' 72-yard run was a career-long. He ran eight times for 98 yards...The Gators finished with 99 yards on the ground, while Miami mustered just four net rushing yards...The RedHawks held the ball for more than 34 minutes, while Florida had for just over 25.
09/04 18:14:39 ET