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Trask, No. 9 Florida handle FCS’s Towson in Swamp, 38-0

By MARK LONGSeptember 29, 2019
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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Towson, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Towson, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Trask was perfect early and a spectator late. He broke a school record in between.

He had no idea about how good his performance was until coach Dan Mullen’s wife told him on the field afterward.

Trask threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, helping No. 9 Florida beat lower-division Towson 38-0 Saturday and extend its winning streak to nine. He set a school record in the process.

The junior making his second collegiate start completed 15 consecutive passes to open the game, giving him 18 straight completions and breaking Chris Leak’s mark (17) set against Wyoming in 2005.

“It’s pretty cool to be part of history like that, especially after all the great quarterbacks that have played here,” Trask said. “I guess I felt a little more comfortable.”

Trask’s hot streak ended with a dropped pass by Jacob Copeland early in the third quarter. He responded with a perfect throw to Kyle Pitts in the corner of the end zone for their second TD hookup of the afternoon.

Trask finished 18-of-20 passing for 188 yards, giving way to Emory Jones in the fourth quarter. Trask showed progress by not having any turnovers. He threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in his first start , against Tennessee.

He was considerably more efficient, as expected, against the overmatched Tigers (3-2).

“Overall, I thought he managed the game pretty well,” Dan Mullen said.

The Gators (5-0) need it to continue as they begin a daunting October against seventh-ranked Auburn next week.

“You look at this team: we’ve taken care of business to this point,” Mullen said. “Whatever the situation — good and bad — we’ve taken care of business so far to this point. We’ve played some good teams, but now it’s going to go to a whole new level.”

Although Florida won the game and covered the 35 1/2-point spread, it also struggled to run the ball early. The Gators mustered 60 yards on 16 carries in the first half.

Mullen put it all on his offensive line.

“That has got to improve for us,” Mullen said. “The mental toughness of the offensive line within their preparation has got to improve as we move forward. ... Whatever you’re doing is not enough. They need to do more.”

Towson moved the ball well early, but ended its first two drives with a fumble and a missed field goal.

The Gators led 17-0 at halftime, the same score they had against fellow Football Championship Subdivision team Tennessee-Martin earlier this month. And just like the first one, Florida played better after the break.

Towson continued to help. Tom Flacco, a younger brother of Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, threw interceptions on his first two drives of the third quarter. Donovan Stiner got the first one, and Jon Greenard the second.

Flacco completed 16 of 27 passes for 157 yards, with two interceptions. He was sacked four times and involved in a fumble. Freshman Jaydon Hill also dropped an interception that he surely would have returned for a touchdown in the first half.

“There is a reason why they are where they are,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. “We made too many mistakes to win a ballgame against a quality opponent like this, but we learned a lot about ourselves ... and I think it tells us who we could be for the rest of the season.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Towson: Fell to 0-2 against Southeastern Conference teams but held its own in both games. The Tigers lost 38-22 at then-No. 3 LSU in 2012, a game in which Odell Beckham Jr. caugh/t five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. They trailed Florida 17-0 at halftime and botched two scoring chances early.

Florida: The team’s woeful offensive line has to play better against the more dangerous Tigers: Auburn and LSU. Auburn’s dynamic duo of Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson will provide the first test.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida should remain in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive week. Moving up will require beating more Tigers: first Auburn and then LSU.

BEING CAUTIOUS

The Gators held out two defensive starters — cornerback CJ Henderson and defensive end Jabari Zuniga — because of ankle injuries. Henderson missed his third straight game. Zuniga has sat out the last two. Mullen said they would return next week.

UP NEXT

Towson gets a week off before hosting Colonial Athletic Association foe Albany on Oct. 12.

Florida hosts Auburn next Saturday. The Tigers have won all three meetings since the schools stopped playing annually in 2003.

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