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No. 7 Gators Bite Auburn

This time, Steve Spurrier might actually make No. 7 Florida run.

The Gators, who seemed to shut down on both sides of the ball after taking a 25-point lead, needed a 1-yard touchdown run by Robert Gillespie to seal a 32-14 win over Auburn on Saturday night.

"Thirty-two points isn't bad, I would have preferred 50," Spurrier said. "We thought we could have scored 50 on (Auburn coach) Tommy Tuberville, but we couldn't do it."

It was Florida's 70th Southeastern Conference victory this decade for the Gators (6-1, 4-1) and their fifth straight win over Auburn (3-4, 1-3).

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Game summary

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  • It was also Spurrier's 99th win at Florida, which moved him past Barry Switzer for the most victories by a coach in the first 10 years at a Division I-A school.

    But it was hardly the effort Spurrier wanted from the Gators, who angered him so much in last week's 31-10 win over LSU he threatened to make them run as punishment.

    He backed off the threat, but might reconsider.

    "At times we looked like a pretty good team, and at times I'm having a difficult time coaching our quarterback," Spurrier said.

    The Gators were able to move the ball at will through the first half, rolling up 319 yards total offense.

    But five trips into the red zone ended in four field goals by Jeff Chandler and Doug Johnson was intercepted in the end zone as Florida led just 19-0 at halftime.

    Florida opened the second half by scoring on its first possession a 62-yard touchdown run by Bo Carroll that extended the lead to 25-0.

    From there, the Gators seemed to shut down. They had just 80 total yards in the third quarter 62 on Carroll's run and finished with 499 for the game.

    The only person Spurrier would point a finger at after the game was Johnson.

    "I really don't want to get into it," Spurrier said. "Let's just say he and I had some communication problems throughout most of the night."

    Johnson, limited in practice most of last week wit a sore throwing shoulder, finished 24-of-43 for 310 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

    Florida's defense also did its part to let Auburn back in the game. After holding the Tigers to just 54 yards total offense in the first half, Florida softened up to allow a total of 246 yards.

    But the Gators were able to hold Auburn to just one yard rushing, forcing Auburn to mount its comeback through the air.

    Jeff Klein, filling in for injured quarterback Ben Leard since Leard separated his shoulder, led Auburn on two surprising scoring drives that pulled the Tigers back in the game and rejuvenated their offense.

    "We had a little talk with them at halftime," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "When you have 50 yards in the first half I don't care who you're playing, you can do better than that. We challenged them and they responded."

    Klein led the Tigers on an 11-play drive, ending it with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ronney Daniels that made it 25-7 with 3:42 to play in the third quarter.

    "Defensively, we wanted to stop the run and make them one-dimensional," said Florida safety Marquand Manuel, who had an interception. "In the second half, their quarterback made some good reads and was able to get the ball off quicker."

    Auburn forced Florida to punt three plays after its first score and Klein engineered another scoring drive. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Daniels made it 25-14.

    "Coach at halftime said, `Guys, you need to step it up. I know you have heart, you have to start playing with heart,"' Daniels said. "We tried to do that."

    As Florida tried to rebound, Johnson was intercepted for the second time by Larry Casher.

    But the Gators finally buckled down and Bennie Alexander intercepted a pass by Klein six plays later to get the ball back.

    Gillespie scored on the next possession to seal the win with 2:59 to play.

    Auburn, which started the season 3-0, has lost four straight. The Tigers are off next week.

    "It will be a physical off-week because we have to run the ball better," Tuberville said. "Hopefully, we'll get some people back during the next two weeks and have an opportunity to go 7-4. If we keep the enthusiasm and the work ethic going, we will be OK."

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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