It was much of the same for the No. 3 Florida Gators in the first half in its home opener at The Swamp against the South Carolina Gamecocks today as Florida remained steady on offense while looking out of touch on defense.
By way of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask's leadership, Florida holds a 24-14 lead at halftime.
Prior to the game, Florida announced that several players would be held out of the action, while a couple of players would return. Kyree Campbell, Lamar Goods, Quincy Lenton, CJ McWilliams, Ethan Pouncey, Jordan Pouncey, Jahari Rogers, Brad Stewart and Ethan White.
The Gators returned BUCK rusher, Jeremiah Moon, to the starting lineup today after he was held out of the action last week. Cornerback Marco Wilson started in place of McWilliams at STAR on the team's opening drive.
In the first half of action today, the Gators offense looked like they picked up where they left off. Trask connected on 14 of 17 of his passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The Kyle-to-Kyle connection lived on throughout the first half, as Trask connected with tight end Kyle Pitts four times for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
On the team's second-scoring drive of the day, chunk plays of 20, 21 and 21 yards through the air were the difference. Redshirt freshman receiver Trent Whittemore had an impressive 21-yard catch, while Pitts climbed the ladder to snag a 20-yard reception on the day. That would lead to Pitts' first touchdown of the day.
While the Gators scored on three of their first four drives of the game, the Gamecocks forced a fumble on Florida's third drive via a Trask run that ultimately would lead to a South Carolina touchdown to tie the game up 14-14 late in the second quarter.
While the Gators looked solid on offense today, their defense was also more of the same from last week, too. At least five drops would bail the Florida defense out on the day, but the Gators would allow far too many easy catches and runs in the middle of the defense, and along the edges.
In the first half, South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill would go 9 of 17 for 55 yards and a touchdown, while the Gamecocks would add 15 rushes for 79 yards and a touchdown on the ground, working both through the air and on the ground against the Florida defense that was leaky, to say the least.
While the defense did give up far too many chunk plays on the day, it did settle down shortly before halftime with a three-and-out to give Florida the football, and an opportunity to take the lead late. Gators defensive tackle/end Zachary Carter and defensive end Brenton Cox would combine for a sack, however, Carter was credited officially.
On the last drive of the day for the Florida offense, the Gators would drive down the field 52 yards in five plays that ended in yet another Pitts touchdown reception. Pitts now has six touchdown receptions in six quarters dating back to last week against the Rebels.
With 12-career touchdown receptions, Pitts tied a school record for most touchdowns by a Florida tight end.
Following Florida's third touchdown of the day, South Carolina would run the clock out to end the first half with Florida leading 24-14.