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Saturday, December 09, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. - No. 14 UF got a big boost from the return of receiver Andre Caldwell in its 45-37 win against No. 8 Kentucky (6-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) Saturday.

Caldwell had his first significant impact Saturday since spraining his knee against Troy on Sept. 8.

The senior led the Gators (5-2, 3-2 SEC) with six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown as UF tallied 256 passing yards, its most in the last three games.

Receiver Riley Cooper was also fully healthy for the first time since spraining his ankle against Tennessee, and having a full set of receivers made the play calling easier for the Gators? coaching staff.

BYou feel a lot better when you have some of your weapons back out at receiver,C offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. BYou can just call a play, and we feel good about all three to four receivers.C

Caldwell got off to a rough start by dropping the only pass thrown to him in the first quarter and losing a yard on a rushing attempt.

BI was a little rusty,C Caldwell said. BI haven?t been out in an environment like that getting the ball in a while, so I was a little rusty.C

Despite the slow start, Caldwell had plenty of passes thrown his way. Quarterback Tim Tebow threw to Caldwell four times on 3rd down, including an eight-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal in the third quarter, which was set up by a 20-yard Caldwell run to the Kentucky 5.

The catch was actually Caldwell?s second touchdown of the drive, as he had a three-yard score called back one play earlier due to a penalty.

BIt was nice getting Bubba back,C Tebow said. BWe kept going to him when we needed a first down, and he kept stepping up and making plays. When he had that touchdown that got called back, we went right back to him and he made another big play.C

Caldwell contributed on three other Gators scoring drives. Back-to-back catches for 14 yards in the second quarter led to an Aaron Hernandez touchdown to put UF ahead 21-10.

A 24-yard reception to the Wildcats? 15 set up a Joey Ijjas field goal to make the score 31-17, and a 14-yard catch on 3rd-and-7 led to a Percy Harvin touchdown run in the fourth.

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Harvin finished with 99 total yards on eight touches.

BJust having all five receivers healthy - just for (Caldwell) to add another dynamic to our offense kind of took the pressure off me,C Harvin said. BHe took a lot of pressure off me so it was great to have him back.C

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