The Florida Gators (6-4) rolled to a 52-3 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, subsequently becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.
Florida quarterbacks freshman Treon Harris and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel combined for six total touchdowns, as wide receivers sophomore Demarcus Robinson and redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar each eclipsed 100 yards and hauled in two scores.
Harris completed just 4-of-12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while Driskel was 9-for-11 for 164 yards with three passing touchdowns as well as a rushing score.
For Dunbar, who was playing his last game in The Swamp, the performance was the best of his Gators career. He registered a career-high 107 yards, caught his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2012, and scored twice for the first time in his career.
Due to a 39-yard punt return by redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose, Florida took over at EKU’s 26 after the visitors punted on their opening possession. However, UF was unable to move the ball on offense and settled for a 48-yard field goal by redshirt sophomore kicker Austin Hardin.
Since their punt coverage was poor the first time, the Colonels tried to fake a punt on their next series, but Gators freshman running back Brandon Powell sniffed it out and Florida started on Eastern Kentucky’s 23. After converting a fourth down with Driskel keeping the ball out of a swinging gate formation, sophomore RB Kelvin Taylor trucked into the end zone from 13 yards out to put UF ahead 10-0 early.
The Gators’ defense failed it the next time the Colonels touched the ball. EKU fumbled thrice on a drive in which it also converted a 3rd and 17, but UF was unable to fall on the ball a single time. As a result, Eastern Kentucky drilled a 51-yard field goal to cut its deficit to a touchdown with XXX left in the first quarter.
EKU tried some more trickeration with an onside kick, but an illegal block forced a rekick and resulted in a 30-yard return by Debose. On the first play from scrimmage, Harris threw deep but short to Dunbar, who adjusted, grabbed the ball, broke a tackle and went 70 yards into the end zone for his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2012.
Harris fumbled the ball for the third time in as many games after he bobbled a snap and was unable to find it, giving the Colonels great field position on the Gators’ eight-yard line. Florida was able to hold on and prevent a score, however, as junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. registered a tackle for loss on a reverse and Eastern Kentucky failed while trying a fake field goal run up the middle.
On the ensuing possession, the Gators forced and recovered a Colonels fumble with redshirt freshman defensive tackle Caleb Brantley knocking the ball loose and freshman DE Gerald Willis jumping on it. Two plays later, Harris hooked up with Robinson for a 19-yard touchdown on a play that was initially ruled incomplete.
A 54-yard pitch-and-catch between Harris and Robinson put Florida at the Eastern Kentucky 30 on its very next possession. After a sore knee forced Harris to leave the field, Driskel entered and led the Gators to a touchdown, completing a first down to Dunbar before running it in from two yards out to put UF up 31-3.
Driskel took over for Harris for good with 7:33 left in the third quarter. His first pass was a 16-yard third-down conversion to junior WR Latroy Pittman, and he followed that toss up with a perfectly-thrown 38-yard bomb to Robinson, who caught it like Willie Mays and ran into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Florida continued to roll as the third crossed into the fourth quarter. Driskel hit Robinson for 26 yards in the third and then continued the drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Dunbar, who scored his second of the afternoon. With less than seven minutes to play, Driskel threw his third touchdown of the day when he found redshirt senior walk-on WR Michael McNeely for a 28-yard score that put UF ahead 52-3.
The 49-point win was the second-largest margin of victory under head coach Will Muschamp at Florida; UF defeated Eastern Michigan 65-0 in the 2014 season-opener.