Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Murphy guides Gators past Wildcats

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When the Gators arrived at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night, they were an emotionally spent team with a first-time starting quarterback about to play his first SEC road game.

Coach Will Muschamp was concerned. So he reminded his players that the loss of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel and starting defensive tackle Dominique Easley to season-ending injuries in a span of three days could not derail their season.

"I told our players no excuses and no regrets," Muschamp said.

They responded in kind, led by quarterback Tyler Murphy.

On the first drive of his first collegiate start, the redshirt junior led the No. 20 Gators 93 yards over 13 plays, setting the tone for a 24-7 victory over Kentucky.

It was the 27th consecutive win for the Gators (3-1, 2-0 SEC) over Kentucky (1-3, 0-1), extending the nation's longest win streak over a major opponent in an annual series and the longest streak by one SEC team over another in an uninterrupted series.

"It's been a long week for us psychologically," Muschamp said. "You can't always control your circumstances in life, but you can control your vision.

"I'm very pleased with how our guys pulled together and came up here and did what we did."

Murphy, who had never thrown a collegiate pass when he took over for Driskel seven days earlier against Tennessee, finished 15-of-18 for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran seven times for 36 yards and a touchdown.

He was 11-of-11 for 120 yards in the first half and completed his first 13 passes. All three of Florida's scoring drives were longer than 60 yards, and it didn't punt.

"I felt really calm," Murphy said. "I had the support of my teammates all week, and they showed up and made big plays for me. It made my job really easy. I just had to focus one play at a time."

Sophomore Matt Jones also was a catalyst with a career-high 176 yards on 28 carries. His 2-yard run capped the opening drive and made it 7-0.

Kentucky answered with its only score of the game — a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 25-yard run on a fake field goal by kicker Joe Monsour that made it 7-7 with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter.

When Murphy did make a mistake, he helped himself. He threw his only interception during the third quarter but made a touchdown-saving tackle on linebacker Josh Forrest after chasing him down just past midfield.

"That was a nice little athletic play even though we don't like to see our quarterbacks tackling people," said defensive tackle Dante Fowler, who had five tackles and two sacks. "He went for the legs. He'll be a nice little cornerback."

The defense took care of the rest. Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, making his first collegiate start, had a leaping interception in the end zone to end the scoring threat.

The Gators defense, which entered No. 1 in the SEC, allowed the long drive early but buckled down. It allowed 173 total yards (48 rushing), 10 during the third quarter. UF has given up just three field goals in the second and third quarters of four games this season.

"We didn't start the game off well defensively," Muschamp said. "But (the Wildcats) had a week off, and they gave us some new stuff. But we adjusted to it.

"Overall, I'm really proud of our football team."

Antonya English can be reached at

Murphy guides Gators past Wildcats 09/28/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 29, 2013 12:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Celtics were only team in position to deal for Kyrie Irving


    The Cavaliers found themselves in a seemingly impossible situation when it came to trading Kyrie Irving. Not only did Cleveland need to try to extract the kind of price a team looks to get to trade its star — some combination of cap relief, young players and draft picks — it also needed to acquire talent to …

    Kyrie Irving, left, is guarded by Stephen Curry during the NBA Finals last season. [Associated Press]
  2. Browns, who visit Bucs this week, take a courageous step toward social change


    CLEVELAND — The laughingstock of the league during a 1-15 season in 2016, the Browns took a dramatic step forward Monday night.

    Browns players kneel as others stand to support their circle during the national anthem before Monday night's preseason game against the Giants. [Associated Press]
  3. Can Bucs become Tampa Bay's favorite team again?


    Their playoff run came up a tiebreaker short.

    Bucs fullback, Mike Alstott talks to the crowd as he walked along Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa during the Buccaneer victory parade Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.Times Photo by: Fraser Hale
  4. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'


    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  5. Trevor Plouffe is DFA'd by Rays, Kittredge recalled for now


    INF Trevor Plouffe didn't do much with the opportunity the Rays gave him, and time ran out Tuesday when he was designated for assignment after the game.

    Plouffe hit just .178, with one homer and two RBIs, in 31 games for the Rays, his primary playing time from starting at first or third against lefties.