GAINESVILLE, FL- The Florida Gators football team entered the 2016 season with lofty expectations. They entered ranked #25 in the country and are considered a contender to win the SEC East.
Florida played a sluggish game against UMass, but in the end prevailed 24-7 at the Swamp. Florida was a 37 point favorite against a UMass team that USA Today ranked 128 out of 128 FBS schools.
Florida jumped to a 7-0 lead after redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio hit sophomore receiver Antonio Callaway for a twelve yard touchdown.
Early in the second quarter the Minutemen got on the scoreboard after QB Ross Comis scrambled for a five yard touchdown. UMass was aided twice during the scoring drive on third down by Florida personal fouls.
Florida ended the first half with a 40-yard field goal by new kicker, Eddy Piñeiro to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.
The fourth quarter saw the Gators offense start to consistently move the ball. Piñeiro made a 49-yard kick to widen the gap to 13-7. Three minutes later Del Rio found Freddie Swain for a score and completed a two point conversion to make the score 21-7. Piñeiro hit a 48-yarder to complete the scoring.
Del Rio made his first career college start and finished the night 29-44 for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Del Rio did not turn the ball over despite consistent pressure from the UMass defense.
Sophmore running back Jordan Scarlett had 13 carries for 70 yards, while junior college transfer Mark Thompson rushed for 22 yards on his six carries.
The Gators defense held UMass to 187 total yards, and only 46 in the ground game.
The Gators committed 8 penalties for 80 yards, including three personal foul penalties.
Up next: Florida will play Kentucky in their SEC opener September 10. Kentucky lost a wild game to Southern Miss 44-35 on Saturday.