Originally created 09/02/01

SEC roundup



GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Rex Grossman set his career high by halftime Saturday night, and finished with 375 yards passing to lift top-ranked Florida to a 49-14 victory over undermanned Marshall.

Grossman, a sophomore, threw for three touchdowns and Earnest Graham scored three times as the Gators improved to 12-0 in openers under Steve Spurrier.

Of course, no opening-day opponent in recent times has come to Florida with the pedigree of the Thundering Herd, the four-time defending Mid-American Conference champions.

Florida looked worthy of its preseason No. 1 ranking, and it wasn't all because of Grossman.

Pass-rush specialist Alex Brown, who chose to stay for his senior season, had two sacks, as did Andra Davis, the senior linebacker who missed last year with a knee injury.

Playing exclusively with six defensive backs, Florida confused quarterback Byron Leftwich and forced Marshall to pick and poke its way downfield to little avail.

No. 8 Tennessee 33, Syracuse 9

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Casey Clausen threw a touchdown pass on Tennessee's first play from scrimmage of the season and John Henderson recovered a fumble to set up another score as the No. 8 Volunteers beat Syracuse 33-9 on Saturday.

Clausen connected with Donte Stallworth on a 37-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into game, but the quarterback's sparkle was short-lived as the defenses took over until a final scoring frenzy.

Henderson, Tennessee's star defensive tackle who chose another year of college instead of an early trip to the NFL, gave the Vols a much needed boost in the third quarter.

With Tennessee ahead 12-3 despite an anemic offense, Syracuse (0-2) turned the ball over when the snap sailed over the head of Troy Nunes, who chased it 31 yards toward the Vols' end zone. Henderson was right behind him and recovered it at the Syracuse 5.

Travis Stephens, a fifth-year senior and last year's backup to Travis Henry, pushed through the line from 4 yards out for the touchdown to put Tennessee ahead 19-3 with 5:53 to go in the quarter.

Stephens, who has been plagued with injuries and lost starting jobs to Jamal Lewis and Henry, finished with a career-high 111 yards on 14 carries, including long runs of 40 and 34 yards. It was the most he had handled the ball since rushing for 107 yards against Georgia in 1998.

With Tennessee ahead 19-3 with 6:35 to go and the game pretty much decided, the teams scored three touchdowns in 30 seconds.

Stephens' backup, Corey Larkins, scored twice on TD runs of 38 and 16 yards. Johnnie Morant caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from Syracuse backup quarterback, R.J. Anderson.

Aside from the late offensive spurt, defense ruled the day for both teams.

Quentin Harris intercepted Clausen on the Vols' third possession in the game. Tennessee's Rashad Baker returned the favor, picking off Nunes three plays later. Neither offense could cash in those turnovers for points.

Louisville 36, Kentucky 10

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dave Ragone threw for a career-high 368 yards and three touchdowns as Louisville beat Kentucky 36-10 on Saturday.

Ragone completed 21 of 34 passes, including a career-best 82-yard strike to Zek Parker on the third play of the game, as the Cardinals (2-0) beat the Wildcats for the third straight year.

Louisville dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining Kentucky 486 yards to 213 and forcing four turnovers to spoil the debut of Guy Morriss' debut with the Wildcats (0-1).

Ronnie Ghent caught a pair of 11-yard TD passes from Ragone, and T.J. Patterson carried the ball 17 times for 72 yards - including 6- and 10-yard scores.

Jared Lorenzen completed 12 of 31 passes for 121 yards and an interception to lead the Wildcats, while backup Shane Boyd was 3-for-6 for 34 yards and an interception.

Louisville, which led 16-10 after three quarters, broke the game open in the final period with Ghent's second TD catch from Ragone and Patterson's two scoring runs.

Auburn 30, Ball State 0

AUBURN, Ala. - Jason Campbell threw for one touchdown and ran for another Saturday as Auburn defeated Ball State 30-0 in the season opener for both teams.

Campbell, the first freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers in 11 years, completed 16 of 28 passes for 214 yards. He also ran five times for 17 yards.

Campbell threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Robert Johnson and scored on a 1-yard run.

Outmanned Ball State never made it into Auburn territory. The Cardinals drove to midfield once in the opening quarter but got no closer than their own 35 the rest of the game.

Marcus Merriweather was the leading gainer for Ball State with 38 yards on 15 carries.

Campbell wasn't the only newcomer to make an impact for Auburn. Freshman Ronnie Brown ran for 67 yards on five carries, including a 43-yard touchdown.

Joe Walkins kept Auburn in good field position all game with 109 yards on six punt returns, including one for 38 yards.