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No. 6 Gators Embarrass Georgia


There's no such thing as a meaningless score when Florida plays Georgia.

Steve Spurrier proved it again Saturday, calling an end-around for a rub-it-in touchdown with 38 seconds left in No. 6 Florida's 38-7 victory over No. 11 Georgia.

"I don't ever care what the other coach thinks when we run the ball in from 7 yards out with the seventh or eighth wide receiver on our team," Spurrier said.

But out of a five-receiver set? After a timeout? With a 24-point lead?

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  • That's how receiver John Capel got his name on the scoresheet as the Gators (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) avenged last season's 37-17 loss, one that snapped Florida's seven-game winning streak in the series and sat bad with Spurrier all year.

    "I don't have any problem with him running up the score, I'll tell you that" said Georgia coach Jim Donnan, who shook hands with Spurrier after the game. "There's no animosity here from us."

    Just minutes before, it appeared the signature touchdown would be quarterback Doug Johnson's 8-yard catch on a trick play that began similarly to Capel's touchdown run.

    Johnson

    handed off to Capel on an end-around, Capel gave it to Travis McGriff on a double reverse, but McGriff stopped and threw crossfield for the touchdown and a 31-7 lead.

    Johnson couldn't remember the last time he'd caught a touchdown pass.

    "Maybe in my backyard," he said.

    Johnson also threw for two first-quarter touchdowns and ran for one as the Gators remained one game behind Tennessee in the chase for the SEC East title.

    Georgia (6-2, 4-2) all but fell out of the SEC and national title hunts and will spend a year thinking about missed opportunities at "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

    "They outplayed us today, of course, but we had some opportunities that we just didn't take advantage of," said two-way player Champ Bailey, who was on the field for 88 plays. "The whole game, I didn't think it was over."

    Four times over the final three quarters, the Bulldogs moved inside the Florida 30. They came out with a lost fumble, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception.

    They were forced to play catch-up thanks to one of the more explosive starts in the long history of one of the South's most storied rivalries.

    Playing in front of a record 84,321 fans at Alltel Stadium -- Georgia's on the west side and Florida's on the east -- the Gators outgained the Bulldogs 197-11 through the first 13 minutes and took a 21-0 lead.

    Johnson had 25-yard TD passes to Travis Taylor and Darrell Jackson and a two-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak.

    But no score seemed more appropriate for this series than the final one.

    After Florida's Teako Brown returned a fumble to the Georgia 8, the Bulldogs brought most of their first string in to prevent the score. But nobody touched Capel as he rushed by an exhausted defense for the 31-point margin.

    It was similar to 1996, when Florida threw a late touchdown pass in a 47-7 victory.

    Or the year before that, when the series was played on campus, and Spurrier called for a rub-it-in score in a 52-17 victory. He wanted to be the first visitor to break 50 at Georgia's Samford Stadium.

    "Against any other team, we probably take the knee," said linebacker Mike Peterson. "But the way they did us last year, the way their fans were cussing us, I would have been upset if coach would have taken a knee there."

    Still, even Spurier admitted the game was much closer than the final score.

    After falling behind early, quarterback Quincy Carter got things under control, engineering a 17-play, 80 yard drive that ate up nearly eight minutes and pulled the Bulldogs within 21-7.

    For the rest of the game, Georgia played almost even with its archrival but couldn't manage a score.

    After a second-quarter interception deep in Georgia territory, Carter moved Georgia 63 yards to the Florida 17, but Tony Small fumbled a reception at the Gators' 3 to end the threat.

    Georgia marched down the field after the second-half kickoff, bu Hap Hines shanked a 24-yard field goal.

    The capper came early in the fourth quarter, when Carter appeared to step out right at the first-down marker on fourth-and-2 from the Florida 27. A measurement showed he came up a ball-length short and Florida started piling on the last two touchdowns.

    "It didn't really bother me," said Georgia safety Kirby Smart. "If they can score, they deserve to score. It's our job to stop them and we didn't."

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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    Doug Johnson
    Gators quarterback Doug Johnson hit the Bulldogs with a 1-2 punch. (AP)