Bowled over: Gators end year on losing note

Florida fan Paul Johnson reacts to a first-half Miami touchdown from his front-row seat. "It's not going the way I had hoped," Johnson said. No. 20 Florida lost 27-10 to No. 14 Miami in the Peach Bowl.

ROB C. WITZEL/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 12:44 a.m.
ATLANTA - Peachy, it was not.
Florida's football team used its final game before Urban Meyer takes over to give the next head coach a good idea of what he has to work on, losing 27-10 to No. 14 Miami on Friday night in the Peach Bowl.
It was No. 20 Florida's third straight loss in a bowl game and Miami's sixth straight win against the Gators (7-5).
In front of a predominantly Florida crowd at the Georgia Dome, the Gators gave up 14 points on special teams in the first half The turning point came early.
Florida appeared poised to take the lead in the first quarter when Tremaine McCollum's blocked punt gave the Gators the ball at the Miami 20-yard line. On fourth-and-1, Florida interim coach Charlie Strong decided to go for it, but UF had only 10 men on the field.
Receiver Dallas Baker sprinted onto the field as Chris Leak took the snap. Baker was called for illegal motion, negating a first down. On the next play, Thomas Carroll blocked Matt Leach's field goal, Miami's Devin Hester picked up the loose ball and sprinted 78 yards for the score.
Leach's second field goal attempt, from 34 yards, was good in the second quarter, but Hester wasn't finished. One play after Channing Crowder recovered a Frank Gore fumble, Leak overthrew an open O.J. Small and Hester picked off the pass, returning it 28 yards to set up a field goal.
Miami's special teams then added to the lead with 3:48 remaining in the half when Roscoe Parrish returned Eric Wilbur's line-drive punt 78 yards for a touchdown.
Leach capped off a forgettable first half for the special teams by missing a 41-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining. As a result, Miami (9-3) took a 17-3 lead into intermission despite having only four first downs.
The Hurricanes' offense came to life on their first possession of the second half, driving 67 yards for a touchdown. Former Gator Brock Berlin hit Ryan Moore with a 20-yard pass for the score.
With 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Leak hit Jermalle Cornelius with a 45-yard touchdown pass to pull the Gators within two touchdowns.
Miami countered by driving 65 yards for a field goal. Florida's final hope ended when Leak's fourth-down pass from the Miami 18 was batted away.
You can reach sports writer Pat Dooley by e-mail at or by calling 374-5053.

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