Updated: Saturday, October 30, 2004 9:07 PM EDT
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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(7) Georgia 31, Florida 24
FLORIDA GATORS
Florida Gators
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GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Georgia Bulldogs
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Senior quarterback David Greene made his last game against Florida a memorable one.

Greene passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns as No. 7 Georgia held off the Gators, 31-24, before an AllTel Stadium-record crowd of 84,753 in a Southeastern Conference showdown.

"This is a big game, not just because of the rivalry, but anytime you can beat an SEC division school, it helps," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Florida never gave up, but I am proud of the way we responded after their quick scores in the second half."

The win ended Georgia's six-game losing skid against the Florida (4-4, 2-4 SEC East), which was playing for lame duck coach Ron Zook.

"It's nice to walk down this hallway and not have to figure out what to say about what happened," Richt said. "It's been a long time coming. A lot of people have been through a lot of pain and suffering, and they finally get to enjoy it."

Georgia's last victory over Florida was in 1997, when the Bulldogs posted a 37-17 victory. The Bulldogs had lost 13 of 14 in the series.

Zook was fired on Monday after a 38-31 loss to lowly Mississippi State but will be allowed to finish the regular season. The Gators vowed to rally around their coach all week and did so in the final half.

"We are disappointed, but I will tell you something, those guys didn't quit," Zook said. "They had chances to quit, but they never did. Did we win? No. We made too many mistakes against a good football team. But those guys fought until the end."

Trailing, 21-7, with 4:29 to play in the third quarter, Florida quarterback Chris Leak, who completed 22-of-34 passes for 247 yards, sparked a comeback with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell. Leak then threw three yards to fullback Billy Latsko to pull the Gators within 24-21 three minutes into the fourth quarter.

On its ensuing possession, Georgia (7-1, 5-1 East) responded behind Greene and put the game away with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Fred Gibson. The scoring strike to Gibson was the 67th of Greene's career, tying him with Eric Zeier for the school record and 10th in conference history.

"He's just a great player. He's played in a lot of big games and he did a lot in this game, which we expected he'd do," Zook said of Greene. "They are a senior ballclub. Just a great ballclub."

Florida was plagued with penalties, committing 10 infractions for 77 yards. Georgia had four for 27 yards.

"We can't keep hurting ourselves," Zook said. "We were moving the ball well in the second half, but some mental errors led to mistakes and penalties."

The Bulldogs scored on their first three possessions on their way to piling up 405 yards of offense. Freshman Danny Ware led Georgia with 18 carries for 103 yards.

"Our running game opened up some opportunities for our passing attack," Ware said. "The offensive line played great, allowing us to eat up some yardage."

Greene, who tied Peyton Manning atop the list of all-time winningest quarterback in Division I-A with 39 victories, hit tight end Leonard Pope for scores of 27 and 35 yards. Pope had three catches for 90 yards, while Reggie Brown caught five passes for 90 yards.

"We found away to get the ball over the middle," Greene said. "Pope and Gibson did the rest. That was a good play for us today, we went to it often and it worked every time."

Playing in front of a hometown crowd, Florida running back Ciatrick Fason gained 139 yards on 17 carries. Fason played at Fletcher High in Jacksonville Beach.

"We roared back in that second half, but just couldn't make it happen," Fason said. "I felt stronger as the game went on, our offensive line played well and I found some holes."

Saturday's attendance topped the previous stadium record of 84,433 set in 2002, also at the Georgia-Florida game.


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