Photo: Anthony Richardson and Montrell Johnson; Credit: Alex Shepherd
The Florida Gators cruised to a 52-17 victory in the second half on the heels of a 35-point first-half performance to earn a much-needed blowout win over FCS opponent Eastern Washington.
After experiencing a cancellation in 2020 due to COVID followed by a brief delay out of precautions for Hurricane Ian — which caused devastation in the state of Florida but left Gainesville relatively unscathed other than brief power outages in the surrounding Alachua County area — the scheduled contest finally came to fruition to give the Gators a tune-up opponent before they reach the heat of their SEC schedule.
Billy Napier’s team took full advantage of the opportunity the Eagles provided, dominating the contest from start to finish to record their third win of the year.
Anthony Richardson continued to shine for the Gators. He built off a record-breaking 453 passing yards against Tennessee, producing magic both through the air and on the ground as UF posted 38 points under his leadership.
His day ended midway through the third quarter. He finished 8-for-10 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
In the second half, Florida got more depth pieces involved as they took their foot off the gas, in comparison to the offensively dominant first half.
The production didn’t slow when Jalen Kitna — who saw a brief stint in the first half when Richardson required medical attention — entered the game as the full-time signal caller. In the first half, Kitna completed his only pass attempt to Ricky Pearsall down the right sideline for a 22-yard gain.
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On his first play from scrimmage in the second half, Kitna found freshman wideout Caleb Douglas down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown.
That extended the Gators’ lead to 42 with that pitch and catch between underclassmen.
Florida’s firepower remained on the ensuing drive, albeit more methodically, as Kitna, Daejon Reynolds and Lorenzo Lingard carried the load on the possession.
Lingard found his way into the end zone for the first time in his Florida career to cap off the drive to break the 50-point mark for the Gators as they went up 52-3 with 11:53 remaining in the contest.
Eastern Washington earned two consolation scores in the fourth. On the first, Eagles quarterback Gunner Talkington found his wideout deep down the right sideline. Then, backup quarterback Kekoa Visperas got in on the action as he scrambled up the middle for a 25-yard rushing touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to make it 52-17.
That score would stick throughout the remainder of the contest, with UF reigning victorious over EWU in convincing fashion.
The Gators will have a short work week as they host the Missouri Tigers for homecoming next Saturday at noon ET. Missouri is one game removed from providing the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs an upset scare in Columbia (Mo.).
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