The Florida football team filled Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with fun on Saturday afternoon.
The annual Orange and Blue Game carried out in front of over 50,000 fans who braved the afternoon’s stifling spring heat. Surprise alumni action, almost 700 total yards of offense and exciting touchdown celebrations made for a light-hearted debut of the Gators’ new look under coach Dan Mullen.
“I’m going to have fun,” Mullen said. “Life is too short.”
Led by quarterback Feleipe Franks’ three total touchdowns and 117 passing yards, the Orange finished the game victorious with a final score of 35-30.
The afternoon’s action opened with the Blue. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kyle Trask — who finished with 178 passing yards and one touchdown — connected on four consecutive pass attempts on his first drive, including a 17-yard completion to Kadarius Toney, to lead the Blue deep into Orange territory. The drive ended with a successful 45-yard field goal attempt from kicker Jorge Powell to give Blue a 3-0 lead with 10:43 remaining in the first quarter.
The Orange had their eyes set on the end zone early. On his first snap, Franks heaved a deep ball to wide receiver Van Jefferson, but the pass was slightly underthrown and fell incomplete. Their first drive ended with a missed 45-yard field goal attempt from walk on Chris Howard.
Trask opened the second quarter by launching the ball almost 50 yards through the air to what appeared to be a target of empty grass in the end-zone. From out of bounds, however, Florida football alum Lawrence Wright suddenly appeared and secured the pass as he fell to the ground. The sneaky play and a successful extra-point attempt gave Blue a 10-0 lead with 14:52 left in the first half.
On the very next offensive play, Franks faked a hand-off to running back Lamical Perine and charged through an opening in the middle of the field. He then cut to the right sideline and completed a 60-yard touchdown run with a dive toward the pylon. Franks immediately jumped up and punted the ball into the crowd behind the north end zone.
“I don’t need a power runner, I need a willing runner,” Mullen said. “(Franks) can go and do that.”
With still over 14 minutes before halftime, the Orange trailed the Blue 10-7. The remainder of the second quarter included a total of 35 points combined from the two teams.
Franks scored on his feet for a second time and found Florida’s second alumni participant for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
Running back Jordan Scarlett led the way on an impressive four-play, 60-yard touchdown drive for the Blue. On the drive, Scarlett tallied 41 yards on three carries, including a seven-yard touchdown run.
Freshman quarterback Emory Jones took his first snap in front a fan-filled Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with less than five minutes before the intermission. On his third pass attempt, he found redshirt senior R.J. Raymond wide open for a 58-yard touchdown pass that brought Orange to its 28-24 lead at the half.
Jones opened the second half of action with his second touchdown pass of the game. He found tight end Kemore Gamble a step ahead of his defender for a 19-yard completion, giving Orange a 35-24 advantage.
On Orange’s next possession, however, Jones threw the game’s first interception to Jahim Lawrence, who returned the pick thirteen yards to the Orange 40-yard line.
Blue was unable to beat the second half’s running clock and never closed the gap. In fact, neither team scored again until Blue found the end zone in the final 15 seconds.