The University of Florida football team concluded its 2005 spring season on Saturday afternoon with the Orange and Blue Debut in front of a record crowd of 58,500 as the Orange squad defeated the Blue team 34-28 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The record crowd witnessed an offensive showcase by both squads and became the largest home crowd ever to watch an Urban Meyer coached team eclipsing the Sept. 11, 2003 Utah vs. California crowd of 46,768 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

The Orange squad struck first as Dallas Baker pulled in a 31-yard post pass from quarterback Chris Leak with 6:30 remaining in the first quarter to give the Orange team a 7-0 lead.

Following the score, the Orange squad’s defense took over and caused the contest’s first turnover as Jermaine McCollum stripped the ball from Andre Caldwell. Orange linebacker Brandon Siler recovered the fumble on the 46-yard line and sent his squad’s offense back to work.

Needing only four plays, Leak hit Baker in the flat as he spun away from would-be tacklers and scampered down the sideline for a 48-yard touchdown and a quick 13-0 Orange lead.

The stingy Orange defense stood tall on Blue’s next offensive series as the unit forced a quick three and out.

After a 34-yard punt by Nick Fleming, the Orange offense picked up where they left off. On the squad’s first play of the possession, Leak hit receiver Chad Jackson for a 26-yard first down completion to the Blue 39-yard line. Six plays later, Leak found Jackson again, this time connecting for a 16-yard scoring strike to put the Orange squad up 20-0 with 13 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. For the quarter Leak completed eight of 12 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

In the second quarter the Blue team would come storming back on its first possession with freshman quarterback Josh Portis hitting Jemalle Cornelius for a three-yard touchdown pass to cut the Orange lead down to 20-7.

Demonstrating a defensive stand of their own, the Blue unit led by Kyle Jackson and Tony Joiner stuffed a fourth and one reverse to turn the ball over on downs.

Not wasting any time, Portis needed only three plays to hit Andre Caldwell in stride on a 37-yard deep post route for his second touchdown pass of the quarter, bringing the score to 20-14 in favor of the Orange squad.

The Orange squad responded to the Blue team on their final possession of the opening half as running back Markus Manson ran the Orange team down the field for 25 of his game-high 72 rushing yards on just four carries. Capping the nine-play drive, Leak hit Baker for his third score of the game from five-yards out with no time remaining on the clock to give Orange a 27-14 lead at the break.

Leak, who played in only the first half, completed 14-of-20 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns in a single half is the most touchdowns thrown in a half since spring game records began being kept in 1996.

In the third quarter, Blue sliced into the Orange lead again with Cornelius making a diving fingertip grab of Portis’ 22-yard post route to cut the Orange lead to six points at 27-21 with 30 seconds remaining.

Leading by only six entering the decisive quarter, the Orange squad mounted a nine-play, 65-yard drive to extend the lead to 34-21 on Cornelius Ingram’s one-yard plunge into the endzone with four minutes remaining in the game.

Fighting back, the Blue squad scored their final points of the game on the final play of the game. Portis hit wideout Kenneth Tookes for a 28-yard touchdown pass with no time remaining on the clock.

In the losing effort, Portis posted a game-high 253 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Gainesville, FL - Saturday April 9, 2005

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