Final: No. 11 Florida 45, UT Martin 0

Florida wide receivers Van Jefferson (12) and Freddie Swain (16) celebrate Jefferson's 65-yard pass reception for a touchdown in the first half against UT Martin in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Live blog from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville for the No. 11 Florida Gators’ home opener vs. UT Martin.

First quarter

Evan McPherson kicked a 32-yard field goal at the end of UF’s first drive for a 3-0 lead at 8:45.

UF’s Kadarius Toney left to the locker room in pain after taking a hit to his left arm.

What went right: The Gators opened the night with a quick three-and-out on defense and a field-goal drive on offense to take the early lead.That’s about the extent of it.

 What went wrong: When it looked like tight end Kyle Pitts was headed for a touchdown on a third-and-1 from the UT Martin 13, he tripped himself short of the first-down marker and UF had to settle for a field goal. The rest of the quarter belonged to the underdog Skyhawks, who managed to control the ball on offense and much of the remainder and melt away the minutes, keeping the ball away from the Gators’ offense. And here was a bad early sign for the offense: the line was getting no push in the running game.

 Play of the quarter: A 22-yard run by Feleipe Franks to convert a third-and-five.

 Trending: The Skyhawks, on both sides of the ball.

– Robbie Andreu

UT Martin       0

Florida            3

Notes: Florida will be without the services of safety Brad Stewart and defensive lineman Luke Ancrum due to suspensions, while defensive backs Amari Burney and Jeawon Taylor are out with injuries, per UF.

Donovan Stiner and Shawn Davis are the starting safeties.

UF won coin toss and will defer to second half.

Second quarter

UT Martin converts a third-and-12. Gators burned on a blitz. The Skyhawks continue to control the ball on offense.

UF quarterback Feleipe Franks connected for a 69-yard scoring pass play with Van Jefferson to put the Gators up 10-0 at 8:35 mark. UF went 92 yards in five plays.

Franks put UF up 17-0 with five minutes left when he hit Tyrie Cleveland for a 35-yard touchdown. Franks is 12 for 12 for 158 yards and two scores. He finished the half 15-for-16 for 183 yards and 27 rushing yards.

Cornerback CJ Henderson was helped to the locker room with what looked like a left leg injury. UF does not provide injury updates.

 What went right: Thanks to Franks, the offense finally got going. He ramped things up with a 69-yard TD strike to Van Jefferson and then found a wide-open Tyrie Cleveland for a 35-yard TD pass later in the quarter to give the Gators a 17-0 lead. Defensively, when UT Martin reached the UF 29, the Gators pushed back, coming up with two sacks to get a stop.

 What went wrong: Mainly one thing, and it’s not good. Standout cornerback CJ Henderson injured what appeared to be his lower left leg attempting to break-up a deep pass and limped off to the locker room before the end of the half. 

 Play of the quarter: Franks deep TD toss to Jefferson was a beauty.

 Trending: Franks, who completed 15 of 16 passes with two touchdowns. His only incompletion came on a Hail Mary on the final play of the half.

– Robbie Andreu

UT Martin       0       0

Florida            3     14

Third quarter

Running back Malik Davis scored from a yard out to cap a seven-play, 51-yard drive to open the half and give UF a 24-0 lead.

CJ Henderson back on the sideline using crutches and a walking boot on his left foot.

Emory Jones took over at quarterback with under eight minutes remaining in the quarter for the Gators before Franks took over.

Lamical Perine scored on a five-yard run to cap an 11-play, 84-yard drive to put the Gators up 31-0 with 4:49 left in the period.

 What went right: Pretty much everything the Gators tried worked on both sides of the ball. Franks continued to spread the ball around and efficiently run the offense, leading the Gators on two touchdown drives to put the game away. The offense controlled the ball and the clock. When the defense was on the field, it dominated, and the Gators did it with a lot of true freshmen and young players. So, lots of good reps to go around

 What went wrong: Two major penalties by the offensive line. But the Gators overcame both to score TDs.

 Play of the quarter: A 23-yard pass from Franks to Trevon Grimes that set up UF’s first TD in the second half.

 Trending: All those young Florida players who got a chance to play.

Robbie Andreu

UT Martin       0       0     0

Florida            3     14   14

Fourth quarter

Jacob Copeland caught a nine-yard TD pass from Kyle Trask to put UF up 38-0 with 14:55 left in the game.

Franks finished the game 25 of 27 passing for 270 yards and two TDs, and 37 yards rushing on 6 carries.

True freshman defensive back Kaiir Elam with the interception in the end zone. That’s UF’s first defensive turnover of the season.

Announced attendance is 80,007.

Jones scores on a 16-yard run to cap a 6-play, 78-yard drive. Chris Howard kicked the point after for a 45-0 lead with 3:55 remaining.

What went right: On the first play of the quarter, Kyle Trask threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jacob Copeland and a few minutes later, true freshman cornerback Kaiir Elam intercepted a pass in the end zone to snuff out a UT Martin scoring opportunity. Elam was one of many true freshmen on defense who saw significant snaps in the second half.

 What went wrong: It’s a little bit picky, but the defense gave up a 48-yard run by quarterback John Bachus. On the very next play, though, Elam came up with his pick on perfect coverage.

 Play of the quarter: Elam’s interception.

— Robbie Andreu

The Gators improve to 2-0, while the Skyhawks are 1-1.

No. 11 Florida 45, UT Martin 0

UT Martin 0 0 0 0— 0
Florida 3 14 14 14—45
First Quarter

FLA_FG McPherson 32, 8:45

Second Quarter

FLA_V.Jefferson 69 pass from Franks (McPherson kick), 8:35

FLA_Cleveland 35 pass from Franks (McPherson kick), 5:00

Third Quarter

FLA_M.Davis 1 run (McPherson kick), 11:52

FLA_Perine 5 run (McPherson kick), 4:49

Fourth Quarter

FLA_Copeland 9 pass from Trask (McPherson kick), 14:55

FLA_Jones 16 run (Howard kick), 3:55

First downs 8 26
Rushes-yards 27-54 38-231
Passing 140 312
Comp-Att-Int 15-23-1 30-36-0
Return Yards 38 37
Punts-Avg. 8-35.5 1-50.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-45 3-30
Time of Possession 28:35 31:25



RUSHING_UT Martin, Bachus 9-48, Bowe 7-13, J.Johnson 3-7, Logan 4-2, Hudson 2-(minus 4), J.Moore 1-(minus 5), (Team) 1-(minus 7). Florida, Perine 10-51, Clement 1-41, Franks 6-37, Jones 4-31, Pierce 5-25, M.Davis 3-18, Copeland 1-15, Wright 7-13, Toney 1-0.

PASSING_UT Martin, Bachus 12-19-1-101, Hudson 3-4-0-39. Florida, Franks 25-27-0-270, Trask 4-5-0-40, Jones 1-4-0-2.

RECEIVING_UT Martin, Logan 5-59, T.Williams 4-22, R.Williams 3-15, Horton 1-29, Dowell 1-12, L.Young 1-3. Florida, Grimes 5-56, V.Jefferson 4-94, Hammond 4-22, Cleveland 3-52, Copeland 3-23, Perine 3-15, Wells 2-27, Toney 2-6, Pitts 2-3, Swain 1-10, Wright 1-4.





      • Yes. Glad they got some vertical passes going. And Swain fielding punts instead of letting them drop is a nice change from our punt returners of 2017 and previous years. Doesn’t matter whether he breaks off big returns or not, just keeping the punts from bouncing for another 15 or 20 yards is making a big difference in the Gators’ starting field position.