LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jaye Howard reunited with a place he had not visited in six years: the end zone.
In the second quarter of Florida's 48-10 win at Kentucky on Saturday, the 303-pound defensive tackle recovered a fumble and trotted 2 yards for a touchdown, his first since his junior year at Apopka High, when he scored against Lake City Columbia.
If it hadn't been Howard crossing the goal line, it could have been any defensive lineman.
"I don't know how he got that ball," junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. "I have to watch the replay, because as soon as I picked my head up, he was in the end zone, out of breath after 2 yards."
In a nickel package, linebacker Jon Bostic rushed untouched off the right edge. The Gators had run the same play earlier, but Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton dumped the ball off before Bostic could break through.
The second time, linebacker Jelani Jenkins picked up the tight end, forcing Newton to hold the ball longer. Bostic hit him from the blind side, jarring the ball loose for Howard.
"We do that, we take pressure off the offense," Howard said. "We get to the quarterback and make big plays — turnovers, fumble recoveries — it just brings energy to everyone around us."
Despite keeping its first three opponents under wraps, Florida's coaching staff was unhappy with the defense's inability to cause turnovers. In wins against Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham and Tennessee, Florida caused three turnovers total. On Saturday, the Gators got four.
After Florida punted on its first two possessions, junior linebacker Lerentee McCray knocked the ball out of Josh Clemons' hands and Hunter recovered. One play later, UF quarterback John Brantley hit tight end Gerald Christian for a 45-yard touchdown.
Safety Matt Elam later snagged his second interception in as many games, and the Gators had another touchdown after two plays.
Florida added two more turnovers: Howard's fumble recovery, and sophomore linebacker Michael Taylor's third-quarter interception. Florida scored 24 points off takeaways.
"We needed that," Bostic said. "We stressed that all week: 'We need to find some way to create turnovers.' We went out and did it."