No. 9 Florida rallies past Kentucky 29-21 in SEC opener
Feleipe Franks carted off field, might be lost for season
LEXINGTON – Kyle Trask relieved an injured Feleipe Franks and rallied No. 9 Florida with three fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including his go-ahead, 4-yard scoring run with 4:11 remaining that lifted the Gators to a 29-21 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night.
Franks, the Gators' third-year starter, was carted off with a right leg injury late in the third quarter with his team trailing 21-10. Stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Kentucky 38, Franks appeared to bend backward on the play. Medical personnel placed an inflatable cast under his right leg and he was taken off to applause from the sellout crowd.
Trask entered and led Florida (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) on a 62-yard drive, ending with Lamical Perine's 8-yard TD run to get the Gators within 21-16. Shawn Davis's interception with 6:05 to go gave the Gators another opportunity, and Trask capitalized with his go-ahead touchdown.
The two-point conversion failed, though, and Kentucky (2-1, 0-1) had a final chance to regain the lead. But Chance Poore's 35-yard field-goal attempt with 54 seconds left was wide right, and Josh Hammond's 76-yard TD run three plays later helped Florida avenge last year's loss in Gainesville.
Sawyer Smith accounted for all three Kentucky touchdowns with scoring passes of 26 and 13 yards sandwiched around his 2-yard run. Making his first Kentucky start a week after Terry Wilson was lost for the season with a torn left patellar tendon, the junior completed his first nine passes for 119 yards. He finished 23 of 35 passing for 267 yards, but also threw three interceptions.
Florida should remain in the top 10 after an emotional victory in Lexington.
Florida's immediate concern is moving forward without Franks, who was 12 of 17 for 174 yards and 15-yard TD to wide-open Freddie Swain before the injury. Franks also committed two turnovers, with a fumble leading to Kentucky's go-ahead touchdown, but the Gators would prefer to have the veteran on the field as they hit the meat of the SEC schedule.
Kentucky's offense operated well behind Smith and seemed in control midway through the third quarter. But his costly interception and a defensive letdown allowed Florida to rally in the fourth quarter, ending any chance of consecutive wins against Florida for the first time since 1976-77.
Florida hosts Tennessee on Saturday.
Kentucky visits Mississippi State on Saturday.
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