The No. 6 Florida Gators (5-1) torched the Arkansas Razorbacks’ (3-4) secondary with a 63-35 win Saturday evening in Gainesville.
Gator quarterback Kyle Trask had a career night, going 23-29 for 356 yards and six touchdowns. Florida wide receiver Kevon Grimes led the team with 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“I'm super impressed with his patience and his ability to not only look off a receiver, but stay where he's at and stay on target,” Arkansas interim head coach Barry Odom said in the postgame press conference. “He's a heck of a quarterback and I would suggest he's gonna win a lot of games moving forward.”
Arkansas graduate transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks completed 15 of 19 passes for 250 yards and two scores in his first game against his former team. Junior wide receiver Mike Woods led the Hogs with 129 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The Gators dominated the Razorback defense all night. It was, by far, the worst performance from the group all season as they surrendered 593 total yards and allowed the Gators to stay on the field for 38:48.
“Hats off to Florida,” senior linebacker Grant Morgan said. “They're a good team. They're top five for a reason. Anyone out there watching the game could notice that and could tell that.”
The Hogs opened the second half with a drive that included five plays of 10 or more yards. Senior running back Rakeem Boyd capped it off with a 12-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Florida lead to 35-21. The Gators reached 400 yards of total offense with 5:54 left in the third quarter and did not look back. They scored again on a 1-yard punch-in by backup quarterback Emory Jones to go up by three scores again.
The fourth quarter began with two scores in the first 3:43 by Florida. One came on Trask’s sixth touchdown pass of the game and the other came on a 35-yard scoop-and-score on a fumble by Boyd that gave the Gators a 56-21 lead.
Arkansas refused to go away, though, as Franks found Woods for an 82-yard touchdown on the first play after the scoop-and-score to cut the lead to 56-28. Florida did not let off the gas, even after putting Jones in at quarterback. They scored once again on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 5:41 in the fourth quarter to go up 63-28.
Arkansas redshirt freshman quarterback K.J. Jefferson entered the game late in the fourth quarter and punched in a 12-yard score to cut the score to 63-35 with 0:40 remaining in the game.
“I'm proud of the team fighting,” Odom said. “I wish we could have played there to win the game and got away from us early in the first half. I thought at least offensively we kept coming back.”
The Gators opened the game with a slow, methodical 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a 9-yard pass from Trask to Grimes. The Hogs bounced back with a quick 1:33 drive, scoring on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Franks to junior receiver Mike Woods.
Florida ran 10 more plays and took 10:28 off the clock in the fairly uneventful first quarter. Right out of the gate in the second quarter, the Gators stopped Arkansas on a 4th-and-1 play near midfield. They took advantage of the Arkansas turnover and scored on a 23-yard pass from Trask to Grimes.
Arkansas was unable to keep the defense off the field for most of the second quarter. Outside of an 83-yard touchdown run from Trelon Smith, the Hogs ran 9 plays for a total of 50 yards. Florida controlled the time of possession once again, running 11:06 off the clock and scoring 28 points in the quarter.
At the half, Florida had gained 366 total yards compared to 226 by the Razorbacks. Trask unloaded on the Arkansas secondary through the first two quarters, going 18-22 for 285 yards and five touchdowns. The Gators were dominant on third downs, converting on six of eight attempts.
The Arkansas offense was unable to keep drives alive in the first half. The Hogs’ longest drive of the half took 3:03 off the clock and resulted in the turnover on downs. The two scoring drives combined took 1:44. The Razorbacks also had 5 penalties in the half, two coming on offensive false starts, two were holdings on kickoff returns and one came a kick out of bounds.
In the absence of Pittman, Arkansas suffered its largest loss of the season. The Hogs cannot afford to dwell on it, though, as they will face the defending National Champions, the LSU Tigers, next week.
“We won't be defined by this moment,” Odom said. “We'll be defined on how we respond to this. Our guys will be hungry to get back to work at home next Saturday against LSU.”
Arkansas will return to Fayetteville next Saturday to take on the Tigers in the “Battle for the Golden Boot”. The game is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network.