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Florida Gators' Chris Rainey provides much-needed spark

Florida receiver Chris Rainey, who had 84 rushing yards, gets tackled by Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo in the first quarter.


Florida receiver Chris Rainey, who had 84 rushing yards, gets tackled by Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo in the first quarter.

JACKSONVILLE — Two weeks ago, center Mike Pouncey predicted receiver Chris Rainey's return would single-handedly boost the Gators offense.

And, based on the early play-calling, the coaching staff agreed.

As soon as Rainey touched the field Saturday against Georgia, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio got the ball in his hands, treating the junior like a catalyst to breathe life into the offense.

"He's a playmaker," Addazio said. "It's great to have him back. He did a lot of great things for us out of the backfield, out of receiver (and) as a kick returner. He brought a lot of explosiveness back to our game."

On Florida's first four drives, Rainey touched the ball or was the intended receiver on 11 of 19 plays, the last for a touchdown.

From the Georgia 20-yard line, Rainey took a handoff on first and 10 up the middle, burst through the second level and broke a tackle at the 5 before spinning past the goal line to help give Florida a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

In his first game since playing USF on Sept. 11, Rainey finished with 84 rushing yards on 16 carries and 9 receiving yards on two catches. Rainey, who was charged with aggravated stalking Sept. 14, was suspended from the team until Oct. 10.

"I love Chris like a brother," Pouncey said. "He's been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He's a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life."

Florida's offense ranked 10th in the SEC entering Saturday's game, and coach Urban Meyer said last week that a lack of big plays on the ground was one reason for concern.

At the time of his score, Rainey's second-quarter carry was the third-longest touchdown run of the season.

And with receiver Andre Debose (ankle) out, the Gators turned to Rainey on special teams. He returned six kicks for 148 yards, including a timely 45-yard burst.

Early in the fourth quarter, after the Bulldogs scored a touchdown to cut the Gators' lead to 21-16, Rainey fielded a kick at the Georgia 4 and rushed down the right sideline, going out of bounds a yard short of midfield.

Eight plays and 33 yards later, punter Chas Henry hit a 34-yard field goal to extend Florida's lead to 24-16.

"Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance," Pouncey said. "He's taking full advantage of it."

Florida Gators' Chris Rainey provides much-needed spark 10/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 9:55pm]
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