TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather
Monday, Jul 28, 2014
Colleges

Cooper keys fast start as Gators air it out early

@tampatrib.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 04:54 PM
JACKSONVILLE -

For the first time since opening day against Charleston Southern, Florida came away with a touchdown on its opening drive.

Tim Tebow found Riley Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone.

Cooper followed up with an acrobatic one-handed touchdown catch over Georgia's Brandon Boykin with 3:20 left in the first quarter to put Florida up 14-0 early.

"If I had a choice, I would have gone up and caught it with two," Cooper said. "(Boykin) was holding my left hand down, so I had to stick my right arm out and pull it in."

It was the first multiple-touchdown game of the season for Cooper, a product of Clearwater Central Catholic High.

Cooper finished with four catches for 78 yards and surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his career (1,009 yards).

"Coach came up to (Tebow and I) and said, 'We're going to throw the ball around a lot more than in the past,' and I think we did a great job with that," Cooper said.

Linebackers force turnovers

For the third time in four years, the Gators forced a turnover on the opening drive of the second half against Georgia.

LB A.J. Jones deflected a Joe Cox pass and made the interception. The turnover set up a Tebow touchdown run that put Florida up 31-10.

Jones picked off another pass with 1:22 left in the second quarter. Jones now has three interceptions in the last two weeks.

"You know, last year he didn't play much and two years ago he played because he had to," UF coach Urban Meyer said. "He's a grown man now taking care of his business."

Jones is tied for first on the team in interceptions (three) this season with S Major Wright.

Ryan Stamper got in on the act with his first-career interception early in the fourth quarter and Brandon Spikes took an interception back for a touchdown with 6:24 left in the game.

Sturgis kicks bomb

Caleb Sturgis' 56-yard field goal with 4:47 left in the first half was a career long for the sophomore and the second-longest kick in Florida history.

"He does it in practice all the time," Meyer said.

Sturgis' kick was the longest in the SEC this season.

Chris Perkins owns the school record with a 60-yard field goal against Tulane in 1984.

Sturgis, who had missed a field goal in three straight games before Saturday, also kicked one from 44 yards in the fourth quarter.

"I almost put Jonathan Phillips in but I know Sturgis has a great leg and I know he can do it," Meyer said.

New uniforms can't save Georgia

The Bulldogs came out of the tunnel for the opening kickoff with new uniforms Saturday.

Georgia, which wore its traditional red and gray during pregame warm-ups, played in black pants, white shirts and black helmets.

"A new helmet and black pants ain't going to make you win the game," Stamper said. "That's just a bunch of fake juice."

Mike DiFerdinando

Comments