Final: No. 9 Florida 29, Kentucky 21; Franks out with ankle injury

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Florida coach Dan Mullen consoles quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) as he lies injured on the field during the second half Saturday against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. Florida won 29-21. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Live updates from Kroger Field for the SEC opener between No. 9 Florida and Kentucky on Saturday night.

FIRST QUARTER

The Gators’ opening drive ends in a Feleipe Franks interception that was returned to the Kentucky 25.

Several plays later, UK quarterback Sawyer Smith fumbles and safety Brad Stewart, who was suspended for the first two games, recovers at the Wildcat 31.

Kentucky is called for targeting on a hit on UF receiver Trevon Grimes in the end zone. UK safety Yusuf Corker is ejected for targeting.

Franks connects with wide-open receiver Freddie Swain for a 15-yard TD at 6:27 mark.

What went right: In a rather quick first quarter, the Gators set the tone early, thanks to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Freddie Swain, yet the Wildcats offense is driving at the end of the first quarter. Gators defensive lineman Jon Greenard has UF’s lone sack of quarterback Sawyer Smith, although UF has been consistently able to create some early pressure. After a costly early turnover by Franks, the Gators defense responded by forcing a fumble to get the ball right back for the opening score.

What went wrong: Florida’s first drive ended in dismal fashion. Feleipe Franks, facing pressure, rolled out and fired a deep pass into double coverage that was easily intercepted by Tyrell Ajian. Fortunately for Florida, the Gators would get the ball right back on a costly Wildcats fumble on the ensuing play, but UF missed an early opportunity to gain some momentum. A holding penalty on freshman tight end Keon Zipperer — one of three first quarter infractions committed by the Gators — almost cost Florida another opportunity to score. And, in a situation to monitor, Gators defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga left the game with an injury and wasn’t on the sideline at the conclusion of the first quarter.

Play of the quarter: One could make the case that Franks’ 15-yard pass to Freddie Swain made up for a costly early interception, yet it wouldn’t have been possible without Brad Stewart’s fumble recovery. But I’m not going with either of those plays; instead, the play of the first quarter was a confirmed targeting penalty on Wildcats safety Yusuf Corker, arguably Kentucky’s most talented defensive back. Certainly something to watch.

Trending: Kentucky is in Florida territory and establishing the passing game as the second quarter commences.

— Graham Hall

Florida         7

Kentucky     0

Notes: Kentucky won the coin toss and defer to the second half. … UF cornerback CJ Henderson, was was injured last week, is not playing.


SECOND QUARTER

Smith connects with Ahmad Wagner for a 26-yard touchdown. Wagner snagged it after UF cornerback Marco Wilson tipped it on a third-and-nine play. Kentucky answers Florida’s score with a 12-play, 79-yard TD drive.

Franks’ hit as he throws, fumbles and recovered by UK at its 46.

Smith gives UK a 14-7 lead with 7:46 left in the half with a 1-yard run.

Smith is now 8-for-8 for 107 yards and a score and has rushed for a TD in his first start for the Wildcats in place of injured starter Terry Wilson.

Franks runs into the end zone, but the play was called back on a holding call on offensive tackle Jean Delance.

Evan McPherson misses a 27-yard field goal attempt with 2:37 remaining, as the Gators come out empty from the red zone.

What went right: Not too much for the Gators. After Florida took a 7-0 lead, Kentucky tied things up on a spectacular catch at the top of the quarter, then proceeded to capitalize on a Feleipe Franks fumble on the ensuing drive. Clutching a 14-7 lead, the Wildcats defense held on 3rd and 8, leaving the Gators to settle for a field goal. As he did last season, McPherson missed a kick from 27 yards out that would have cut UF’s deficit to four.

What went wrong: A lot for Florida, especially during Kentucky’s second-straight scoring drive. On that sequence, which came after Feleipe Franks’ second turnover of the night, the Gators missed several tackles in the secondary, were flagged for having too many men on the field and could only watch as Sawyer Smith guided Kentucky into the end zone. Feleipe Franks appeared to pull the Gators even on a 20-yard scamper, but right tackle Jean Delance was whistled for a holding penalty. In all, Florida’s offensive line left much to be desired late in the second quarter as the Gators came away with no points.

Play of the quarter: Ahmad Wagner’s 26-yard touchdown reception wasn’t just a spectacular play by the 6-foot-9 pass-catcher — it pulled the Wildcats even in dramatic fashion. After replay confirmed the catch, the Gators seemed stunned; three plays later, Franks would fumble and the Wildcats would trot down the field and take the lead.

Trending: Kentucky receives the ball to begin the second half, with an opportunity to take a two-score lead. Yet the Gators have been here before under Dan Mullen; can he once again make the necessary adjustments to keep Florida undefeated?

— Graham Hall

Florida         7       0

Kentucky     0      14


THIRD QUARTER

UF safety Shawn Davis intercepted Smith at the UF 5-yard line and returns it 72 yards to the Kentucky 21.

McPherson nails a 32-yard field goal to help UF cut the deficit to 14-10 with 7:50 remaining in the period.

Florida safety Donovan Stiner was ejected in the third quarter for targeting.

The Wildcats went up 21-10 with 5:39 left when Smith connected with tight end Keaton Upshaw for a 13-yard score.

On fourth-and-1, Franks is tackled and hurt. Franks right leg was pinned under him at the end of play. Team medical personnel came on the field and soon placed an inflatable cast under Franks’ right leg before the junior was placed on a cart and taken off for observation. ESPN declines to show replay of Franks’ injury, but says he dislocated his right ankle.

Florida players swarmed around Franks on the cart to offer support before he was taken away to applause from a sold-out crowd at Kroger Field.

Franks completed 12 of 17 passes for 174 yards and a 15-yard touchdown before the injury.

What went right: Again, not much. Shawn Davis’ interception initially kept it a one score game, and his ensuing 72-yard return resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, but memories of the early score were quickly erased.

What went wrong: Franks’ season-ending injury, for one, but unfortunately that stands as the play of the quarter, if not a season-defining one. That aside, a pass interference penalty on running back Lamical Perine, albeit with a questionable review, held the Gators to a field goal rather than just three points. With the Wildcats looking to take a double-digit lead, UF safety Donovan Stiner was ejected for targeting, and Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith hit Keaton Upshaw for a 13-yard touchdown on the very next play.

Play of the quarter: For Florida, it’s a potentially season-defining one: on 4th and 1 and the Gators looking to trim the deficit, Franks attempted to dive for the first down, but was met by a wall of Wildcats. With nowhere to go, and short of the first down, Franks was bent backward awkwardly and came up writhing in pain. Trainers immediately rushed to help the fourth-year quarterback, and soon the cart came out to take Franks off. Emotional and in clear pain, Franks was carted off, his right leg in a cast.

Trending: The Gators, facing an 11-point deficit, will look to Kyle Trask to lead them back.

— Graham Hall

Florida         7     0      3

Kentucky     0    14     7


FOURTH QUARTER

Senior linebacker David Reese helps stuff UK on a fourth-and-1 play.

Quarterback Kyle Trask gets the call to run the offense.

Trask went for the run, was grabbed and he then pitched to Lamical Perine for an 8-yard scoring run with 12:41 remaining. The try for the two-point conversion failed. Perine’s run capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive in 2:15. Trask 4 of 5 for 54 yards on the drive.

Davis with another interception of Smith, but after an unsportsmanlike penalty, UF starts at its own 34.

UK defensive lineman T.J. Carter was ejected for targeting on a hit on Trask. Giving UF a first down at the Cats 36.

Trask completes a 30-yard pass to Pitts.

Trask scores on a four-yard run to put UF up 22-21 with 4:11 left. Trask’s run for the conversion failed.

Chance Poore missed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right with 54 seconds remaining.

Josh Hammond takes a jet sweep 76 yards for a touchdown with 33 seconds left for a 29-21 lead.

Florida Kaiir Elam intercepts Smith to end the game. UF is now 3-0 overall, 1-0 in the SEC East. UK is 2-1, 0-1.

What went right: Chance Poore’s potentially game-winning field goal, for one. The Gators clawed all the way back from an 11-point deficit, only to see the Wildcats have an opportunity to win the ball game in dramatic fashion. Instead, the 35-yard attempt sailed just right of giving the Wildcats consecutive victories in the series.

What went wrong: Most of the bad was on Kentucky’s end, as the Gators scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to claim their first conference victory of the season. From the missed field goal to a costly targeting penalty, the Wildcats, with the nation watching, coughed up an opportunity to claim a statement victory.

Play of the quarter: Florida’s secondary clearly has much to improve upon, although it’s clear the Gators can breathe easy knowing Shawn Davis is lurking. His two interceptions helped keep the Gators in the game, and his performance came after much hype throughout the week. But the play of the game, outside of the missed field goal, is Josh Hammond 76-yard touchdown rush. It capped 19 unanswered points by the Gators, who remain undefeated heading into a home contest with Tennessee.

— Graham Hall

Florida 7 0 3 19—29
Kentucky 0 14 7 0—21
First Quarter

FLA_Swain 15 pass from Franks (McPherson kick), 6:27

Second Quarter

KEN_Wagner 26 pass from Smith (Poore kick), 14:16

KEN_Smith 1 run (Poore kick), 7:46

Third Quarter

FLA_FG McPherson 32, 7:50

KEN_Upshaw 13 pass from Smith (Poore kick), 5:39

Fourth Quarter

FLA_Perine 8 run (pass failed), 12:41

FLA_Trask 4 run (run failed), 4:11

FLA_Hammond 76 run (McPherson kick), :33

FLA KEN
First downs 21 26
Rushes-yards 27-138 41-140
Passing 300 267
Comp-Att-Int 21-30-1 23-35-3
Return Yards 0 18
Punts-Avg. 1-44.0 2-54.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-78 9-79
Time of Possession 25:12 34:48

 

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Florida, Hammond 1-76, Perine 14-27, Franks 8-23, Pierce 2-8, Trask 1-4, (Team) 1-0. Kentucky, Smoke 16-81, Rose 14-46, Smith 9-12, Bowden 2-1.

PASSING_Florida, Franks 12-17-1-174, Trask 9-13-0-126. Kentucky, Smith 23-35-3-267.

RECEIVING_Florida, Jefferson 7-93, Pitts 4-63, Swain 4-57, Perine 3-23, Grimes 2-50, Hammond 1-14. Kentucky, Bowden 7-70, Rigg 5-50, Wagner 3-70, Ali 2-28, Rose 2-18, Upshaw 1-13, Schlegel 1-12, Dailey 1-8, Smoke 1-(minus 2).

MISSED FIELD GOALS_Florida, McPherson 27. Kentucky, Poore 35.