The Florida Gators improved to 4-1 overall for the season, and 3-0 in conference play with the 30-10 defeat of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Gators have never lost to Arkansas in the Swamp (4-0) and sustained that record in the first night game of the season, last night, in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The energy inside the stadium was immense as the first night game in two years brought a great victory for the Gators. Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and senior wide receiver Soloman Patton were the key players in the Gator’s victory.
Florida’s offense struggled early in the game producing a punt and a blocked 44-yard field goal attempt. Arkansas had a 7-0 lead after freshman Jonathan Williams out ran the UF defense for a four-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. The Gators defense had a slow start as well until it adjusted to the Arkansas offense that put up 81 yards in the first quarter. The 7-0 hole that the Gators were in was dug out of by kicker Brad Phillip’s 28-yard chip shot field goal. Arkansas led 7-3 when Ken Hatcher was out on a flair route into the right flat when Purifoy read quarterback Brandon Allen and intercepted the ball ending with the Gators on top 10-7. It was moderately smooth sailing from there when the Gator’s defense clamped down on Arkansas’s run game.
The key players to the game were Patton and Purifoy. Soloman Patton turned a pair of short receptions into touchdowns for the Gators. Patton finished with six catches and a career-high 124 yards. According to gatorzone.com, Patton was the first wide receiver to accomplish two touchdown passes in a game since Andre Debose November 19th, 2011 vs. Furman. Loucheiz Purifoy forced his first fumble of this season. He also returned a pick-six 42 yards for the lead. Purifoy recorded 4 tackles, the first sack of his career, and three pass break-ups. Loucheiz Purifoy was named Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week. Also, Junior quarterback Tyler Murphy made his first home start since he replaced Jeff Driskel completing 16 of 22 passes for a career-high 240 yards.
The Razorback victory was Florida’s 10th straight home win and they remain tied with Georgia at the top of the SEC Eastern Division. The Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2) entered the game with an average of 237 yards per game on the ground, second-best in the SEC, but against the Gator’s second-best run defense in the nation, they only acquired 111 yards rushing on 29 attempts. The Gators move on to play LSU in Baton Rouge this Saturday.
Information from ESPN, GatorZone, and The Associated Press was used in this article.