By ERIC RANGUS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- For the longest time, it appeared a 38-yard field goal by Jesuit's Xavier Beita in the first quarter would be the difference in the Florida-Georgia all-star game at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. Then Georgia pulled out the gadget play.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, quarterback Robert Johnson already had thrown three interceptions, so coach Milt Miller gave someone else a try.
Midway through the fourth quarter, wide receiver Fred Gibson took a handoff from Johnson and found a wide-open P.K. Sam, a Florida State signee, for a 69-yard touchdown and a 6-3 lead. Georgia added a field goal a couple of minutes later and earned a 9-3 win.
Georgia now has won five in a row and leads the series 8-6-3.
Florida was held without an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive year.
"The way our defense was playing, it looked like (the kick) would hold up," said Beita, who will play at Florida State. Through three quarters, Georgia had thrown more interceptions than completions, and a vaunted running attack that featured four SEC signees had managed just 125, mostly harmless, yards.
Cornerback Greg Golden of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas was on his way to an MVP-caliber game, picking off two passes, but he was beaten on Georgia's touchdown. Florida allowed just 216 total yards. Florida's offense, though, couldn't keep up. It also committed three turnovers (including two interceptions inside the Georgia 10) and amassed just 94 total yards. Beita, who also averaged 48 yards punting, was one of three Hillsborough County players on the Florida roster. Gaither running back Lydell Ross finished with 10 carries for 49 yards, and Plant City linebacker Phillip Marshall made four tackles before straining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the third quarter.
He did not return, but the injury is not considered to be serious.