GAINESVILLE — The touchdown came 4:26 into the game. The overwhelming emotions came much, much earlier.
For Florida senior receiver Louis Murphy, playing his final home game Saturday afternoon at Florida Field was a bittersweet affair. He knew it wouldn't be easy. His father, Louis Sr., attended along with other family members. But someone very important was missing — his mother Filomena Murphy, who died from cancer this year.
So when Murphy, a St. Petersburg native and Lakewood High graduate, caught Florida's first touchdown with 10:34 remaining in the first quarter, he pointed up to the sky and acknowledged her one last time on Florida Field, even though she wasn't there.
Murphy's touchdown, his fifth of the season, set in motion an offensive barrage for the No. 3 Gators en route to a 70-19 victory over the Citadel in front of 90,374 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
It was the most points scored by the Gators since a 71-13 victory over Vanderbilt in 2001.
"It was pretty emotional," Murphy Sr. said. "Of course, we miss mom, the matriarch of the family. We knew it was going to be tough coming into this game, the last home game, this being parent and family day."
So they prayed before the game. And when Murphy was announced, he headed for coach Urban Meyer and the waiting families.
And when Murphy broke down, several of his teammates rushed over and wrapped him in an embrace.
He pulled it together, and scored on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Tim Tebow. Murphy finished with two receptions for 24 yards.
"It was a great feeling to come out here and leave on a high note," Murphy said. "I'm just glad we could keep it rolling and we didn't have any holdups."
After Murphy's touchdown, the endless scoring began.
Florida (10-1) led 42-0 shortly into the second quarter, marking the sixth consecutive game the Gators have scored at least 42 points. That is the longest active streak in the nation, and the longest in history for any team in the SEC.
"It was really neat to see a lot of seniors play, a lot of seniors do good, and see the leaders get to go out there and get another good victory for us," said Tebow, who was 9-of-11 for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed twice for 34 yards.
Last week, Meyer said he hadn't given any thought as to how long he might play his starters. Not much thought was necessary. Tebow and the majority of the starters didn't make it through two quarters.
The Gators led 49-6 at halftime with six players having scored a touchdown.
Junior receiver Percy Harvin, whom many suspect was also playing in his final home game, had three carries for 49 yards and one touchdown, and two receptions for 76 yards.
Florida amassed 705 yards of offense, including 394 rushing. The Gators' first punt came with 5:34 remaining in the game.
By halftime, Meyer admitted his thoughts — and that of most of the starters — had turned to this week's showdown with archrival Florida State, and the SEC championship game against unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Alabama Dec. 6 in Atlanta.
"Our next two weeks are about as important as, I don't know the history exactly, but I can't imagine a more important two weeks in the history of Florida football, what's rolling down the barrel of us."
Despite the blowout, the Citadel (4-8) managed to score more points than all but two of the Gators' opponents this season, albeit against the second- and third-string defense.
"We didn't execute like we would have liked to," Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins said. "Obviously, it's a great football team that we were playing against. I thought our guys could have played better. We dropped some balls, we didn't tackle as well as we should have.
"But a lot of that is because of who we were playing, a great football team."
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.