With the University of Florida facing third-and-3 from the Georgia 4-yard line, Antonio Callaway lined up next to the left tackle.
As quarterback Luke Del Rio took the snap, the sophomore receiver ran into the backfield, took the handoff and swept almost untouched for a third-quarter touchdown, a rare offensive outburst for the No. 14 team in the country.
But with a dominant performance from the defense coupled with that occasional spark from an inconsistent offense, the Gators did enough to defeat the unranked Georgia Bulldogs 24-10 in front of an announced crowd of 84,681 at EverBank Field.
The win allowed Florida (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) hold onto its SEC East lead with three conference games to go.
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Callaway’s rushing touchdown made him the first Florida player to score a touchdown in five ways during his career, accomplishing it via the rush, catch, pass, kickoff return and punt return.
On the day, the former Booker T. Washington standout finished the game with 42 yards on four catches and had the 4-yard rushing touchdown.
But the offense sputtered more times than it provided a spark.
As has been the case all year, one bad play — a penalty, a sack, a stuffed run — sent promising drives into a tailspin.
Del Rio failed to move the offense again. The Gators found the end zone three times on 13 drives and had eight drives where they failed to gain at least 25 yards.
Outside of a four-play, 39-yard drive where tight end C’yontai Lewis hauled in two passes and fought for a 19-yard touchdown, Del Rio did not have a drive where he had a dominating performance from start to finish.
He threw an interception four snaps into the game and finished the game with 131 yards on a 60 percent completion rate (15 for 25). The redshirt sophomore far too often locked onto his first receiver, which caused him to stay in the pocket too long or fail to see an open receiver.
Sophomore Jordan Scarlett, a former St. Thomas Aquinas standout, led Florida’s depleted running attack with 93 yards on 26 carries and had a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter, marking the sixth consecutive game where he has found the end zone.
UF needed him to carry the load, with sophomore Jordan Cronkrite (undisclosed injury) and junior college transfer Mark Thompson (suspended) not making the trip.
Georgia (4-4, 2-4), though, was equally as sporadic as it faced a Florida defense that came into the game ranked second in the country in average yards allowed (252).
Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, who UF coach Jim McElwain has called “the future of the SEC,” had early success against Florida’s defense.
He picked apart the secondary on his third drive of the game, taking advantage of three miscues on a six-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with a throw to a wide-open Riley Ridley in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
But the Gators’ front seven kept him on his toes for the rest of game, sacking the freshman twice and forcing 16 quarterback hurries, making him run out of the pocket and make plays with his feet.
Eason finished the game with 143 yards on 15-of-33 passing. After Eason’s lone passing touchdown, which gave the Bulldogs a brief 10-7 lead, Georgia failed to pick up a first down on eight of its final 10 drives.
UF wiped out Georgia’s run game, too, limiting the Bulldogs to just 37 yards on 17 carries (not including the 16 negative yards accrued through sacks).
THIS AND THAT
▪ Senior Jarrad Davis started at middle linebacker for Florida on Saturday despite spraining his right ankle two weeks ago against Missouri on Oct. 14. The linebacker returned to practice this week after sitting out during the bye week and was considered a game-time decision. He finished Saturday’s win with a team-high seven tackles.
▪ Scott Stricklin, who takes over as Florida’s athletic director on Tuesday, was in attendance for the game.
▪ Kicker Eddy Pineiro, a former soccer standout at Miami Sunset High, went 1 for 2 on his field-goal attempts, missing a 33-yard shot wide right before making a 38-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter. He is now 10 of 14 on the season, with two of his four misses coming from inside 40 yards.