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Another loss by Florida yields another team's goal post party

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 6, 2002


OXFORD, Miss -- The goal posts came down in the north end zone at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

OXFORD, Miss -- The goal posts came down in the north end zone at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Those are the words Florida coach Ron Zook may be using this week when he's trying to get the Gators to regroup after Saturday's 17-14 loss to Mississippi.

The Gators entered the game as 13-point favorites, then barely could make it off the field as Rebels fans rushed to tear down the goal posts, reminiscent of last year's UF loss at Auburn.

"Their fans had every right to be excited," Zook said. "They should be excited, but that should eat your guts up, especially when you know you're a better team than we showed today."

Teams from the SEC West are getting good at beating the Gators in midseason.

In 1997, the Gators lost at LSU. They lost at home to Alabama in 1999, then at Mississippi State in 2000, at Auburn last season and at Ole Miss this season. All the losses were the fifth or sixth game of the season.

The win will cost Ole Miss about $25,000, the average price of a goal post.

"I wanted to see the goal posts come down," Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning said. "But it got so crazy out there, I had to watch it in the locker room."

Manning did what his brother, Peyton, never could while an All-American at Tennessee -- beat Florida.

"I'm sure Peyton will be the first to give me a call," Manning said.

* * *

FINALLY ... A SACK: For the first time this season, Manning felt what it was like to be sacked.

Actually, three times.

With 2:11 left in the first quarter, cornerback Keiwan Ratliffe tackled Manning for a loss of 7. Manning fumbled, and Cory Bailey recovered for the Gators, leading to a touchdown for Florida. Bryan Savelio added a second sack in the third quarter for a loss of 14.

Ole Miss hadn't allowed a sack in four games this season and in six consecutive games dating to Nov. 17. Since the start of the 1999 season, Ole Miss has allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC, with 33.

HUNTER OUT ... : Punter Jason Hunter did not make the trip Saturday.

The sophomore from Tampa was awarded a scholarship at the end of fall two-a-day practices and was the starting punter for the Gators' first two games. He was replaced by Sean Morton in the third game.

MARTIN IN: Backup quarterback Ingle Martin debuted as punter, after working out at the position in practice for several weeks.

A former high-school punter, Martin had seven attempts for an average of 45.9 yards, including a 70-yarder with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter.

"I've always loved to kick, even as a kid," Martin said. "I was just glad to do it. I'm just glad to be able to help."

SNELL INJURED: Offensive tackle Shannon Snell, of Tampa, injured his shoulder with 14:02 left in the second quarter and did not return. Zook said after the game he did not know Snell's status.

JORGENSEN STARTS: One week after hinting he would leave the team, senior tackle David Jorgensen started Saturday. Earlier in the week, Zook said sophomore Mo Mitchell, who missed nearly two weeks for personal reasons, probably would start. Mitchell and Jorgensen alternated and Jorgensen also saw time at left tackle for Snell.

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