‘Rainey’ forecast swamps Vols again
Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011 7:03 pm
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Chris Rainey slipped out of the backfield, caught the ball in the middle of the field and turned toward the end zone.
No one was around him. No one was going to catch him, either. Not this time.
Rainey had 233 total yards, including an 83-yard touchdown catch, and No. 16 Florida beat rival Tennessee 33-23 Saturday to extend two decades of dominance in the Southeastern Conference series.
Rainey finished with 108 yards rushing, 104 yards receiving and blocked a punt that led to a field goal. His touchdown pretty much sealed it, allowing the Gators (3-0, 1-0) to push their winning streak in the series to seven games.
“Rainey is a special athlete,” quarterback John Brantley said. “He’s really grown up. He deserves all this he’s doing.”
Florida has won 16 of 22 since the Eastern Division teams started playing annually in 1990.
The Volunteers (2-1, 0-1) had hoped to snap the streak with quarterback Tyler Bray, but the game ended with another Florida celebration in the Swamp.
Rainey and a swarming defense had a lot to do with it.
Rainey proved again to be the team’s most valuable player. And he did it with Florida legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith roaming the sideline.
Rainey became the first Florida player since Percy Harvin in 2007 to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game.
“He talks a lot, but he doesn’t complain about anything,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “He works awful hard, he works extremely hard. Playing football, playing at Florida is really important to him.”
Rainey also returned three punts for 21 yards, giving him 563 all-purpose yards through three games.
Florida’s defense has been nearly as good. After allowing just a field goal in the first two games, the unit was equally impressive against the Volunteers despite dropping five would-be interceptions and getting flagged for six pass interference penalties.
After the fifth one, Bray hooked up with tight end Mychak Rivera for an 18-yard score that cut Florida’s lead to 33-23 with 4:46 remaining.
It could have been closer, but Tennessee failed on a 2-point conversion in the third quarter. Bray’s final pass was intercepted, ending Tennessee’s slim shot at a comeback.
Bray completed 26-of-48 passes for 288 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was sacked three times and hit way more often.
He played much of the game without his top target, though.