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No. 11 Florida loses Kadarius Toney, CJ Henderson in win over UT Martin

The two leave with injuries in the first half and never return. That may be an ominous sigh as SEC play approaches.
Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland catches a pass for a 35-yard touchdown against UT Martin during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Gainesville. [JOHN RAOUX  |  AP]
Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland catches a pass for a 35-yard touchdown against UT Martin during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Gainesville. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Sep. 8, 2019

GAINESVILLE — No. 11 Florida might have lost its top two players in a 45-0 victory over lower-division Tennessee-Martin on Saturday night.

Elusive receiver Kadarius Toney and speedy cornerback CJ Henderson left the game in the first half and did not return — a potentially significant setback considering the Gators (2-0) open Southeastern Conference play next week at Kentucky.

Toney took a hit on his left arm late in the first quarter, walked off the field in pain and eventually headed to the locker room for further evaluation. Henderson injured his left ankle while covering a receiver in the second quarter, limped into the locker room and later returned to the sideline wearing a walking boot and using crutches.

Florida barely missed either of them against the Skyhawks (1-1), who fell to 0-10 against SEC teams and failed to cover the 44 1/2-point spread. But the Gators know being without two standouts in league play would be a crushing blow to both sides of the ball.

RELATED: Gator Nation honors legendary Mr. Two Bits in home opener

Toney and Henderson each wear No. 1, mostly because of their talents. Without them, Florida still manhandled overmatched UT Martin.

Feleipe Franks completed 25 of 27 passes, including 15 straight to start the game, for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He dropped in beautiful TD passes to Van Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland, but he also was again slow through his progressions.

Lamical Perine ran for 51 yards and a score. Fellow running back Malik Davis (Jesuit High), who missed most of 2018 because of a knee injury, scored for the first time in nearly two years.

The defense picked up where it left off against rival Miami , finishing with five sacks and holding the Skyhawks to 194 yards.

Florida led 38-0 early in the fourth — and had emptied its bench — when quarterback John Bachus scampered for 48 yards and gave UT Martin its best scoring opportunity. Highly touted freshman Kaiir Elam intercepted Bachus’ pass in the end zone on the ensuing play.

The takeaway

UT Martin: The Skyhawks got $500,000 for making the 700-mile trip to Gainesville, the kind of payday that helps fund the school’s entire athletic department. They have another one in November when they end the regular season at Kentucky.

Florida: The Gators still have issues along their offensive line. They should have controlled the line of scrimmage and had their way with the Skyhawks. Instead, Franks was sacked once and hit several more times.

Injuries and suspensions

Linebacker Amari Burney and safety Jeawon Taylor missed the game because of injuries. Defensive lineman Luke Ancrum and safety Brad Stewart were suspended. Stewart also was suspended for the season opener.

Up next

UT Martin: At Southern Illinois next Saturday.

Florida: At Kentucky next Saturday. The Wildcats ended a 31-game losing streak in the series last year.

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