Taven Bryan was too strong. He pushed through his assigned blocker with ease early in the second quarter.
He was also too fast. He sprinted around his teammate, defensive tackle Khairi Clark, as UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely darted toward the right sideline. Bryan caught him and lunged at his ankles to secure a sack.
It was that kind of game for the visiting Blazers (7-4, 5-2 Conference USA), who didn’t have the size or speed to compete with Bryan or Florida (4-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) in their 36-7 loss to the Gators on Saturday in The Swamp. The win for Florida snapped a five-game skid that started on Oct. 7 against LSU.
Kicker Eddy Pineiro missed an extra point in the game against the Tigers that ended up costing the Gators a chance at winning. So it was somewhat fitting that he was Florida’s biggest weapon against the Blazers.
He booted five field goals and three extra points. The redshirt junior connected on two kicks of 50 yards, which was a first in Florida football history. The five successful kicks were also a career high for the Miami Sunset alum, who was serenaded by chants of “Edd-y, Edd-y, Edd-y.” And they were the most field goals in a game for a Florida kicker since 1992.
“I feel like my whole mindset changed after I missed that extra point,” Pineiro said. “I was, like, really down in my life. I’m like, ‘I need to perform and do what I have to do.’ So I feel like that extra point I missed was the biggest blessing in my life.”
The rest of UF’s offense was led by Feleipe Franks, the only player among UF’s five scholarship quarterbacks who was healthy entering the game. He finished with 152 yards on 15-of-30 passing with two touchdowns. UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely finished with 177 yards passing, though Franks was a victim of several costly drops.
Florida also finished with 253 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown from Lamical Perine.
Franks’ first touchdown of the day went to tight end C’yontai Lewis, which marked the first score for a UF tight end this season. Fellow tight end DeAndre Goolsby also grabbed a touchdown.
The team’s defense also recorded a first against the Blazers.
Aside from a punt muffed by South Carolina, it hadn’t recovered a fumble this season. That changed when linebacker Vosean Joseph forced the ball to the ground in the first quarter and the Gators hugged it.
“We’re gonna continue to work on that next week,” coach Randy Shannon said of forcing turnovers, “because next week, we’ve got to create more turnovers to give us field position and give us a chance to do things offensively.”
The Blazers, who were paid $1.5 million to play the game, managed 180 yards and scored their only points on a 74-yard heave from Erdely to Xavier Obosi early in the fourth quarter.
The win provides some momentum for the Gators with a pending showdown against rival Florida State Saturday in Gainesville.
“To get a win just feels really good for our confidence,” Franks said. “Especially going into next week when we have a big game against Florida State.”