Feleipe Franks’ 3-yard touchdown run with 8:18 left Saturday night enabled No. 8 Florida to rally for a sloppy, penalty-ridden 24-20 win over Miami in each team’s season opener at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Franks completed 17 of 27 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns as the Gators, coached by former Trinity of Manchester quarterback Dan Mullen, survived four turnovers, including two interceptions and a fumble by their quarterback.
Florida also committed nine penalties for 93 yards.
The Hurricanes, playing their first game under new coach Manny Diaz, took a 20-17 lead 45 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Running back DeeJay Dallas took a snap out of the Wildcat formation and ran 50 yards, breaking two bad attempts at tackling.
However, Miami couldn’t overcome Franks’ winning score, killing itself with a spate of mistakes. It committed 14 penalties for 119 yards and allowed 10 sacks of redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams.
In his first career start, Williams played well most of the night, hitting 19 of 30 passes for 214 yards and a score.
Each team scored on its first drive. Williams completed all five passes he tried for 61 yards, setting up a 36-yard field goal by Bubba Baxa that gave Miami the early lead. Florida answered back with a 66-yard touchdown pass from Franks to Kadarius Toney, one play after a fake punt extended the drive.
Baxa drilled a 42-yard field goal with 8:26 left in the first half to bring the Hurricanes within a point. Williams orchestrated a 12-play, 90-yard march on their next possession, hitting tight end Brevin Jordan for a 25-yard scoring strike 45 seconds before halftime for a 13-7 lead.
The Gators controlled the third quarter, cashing in two short fields for 10 points. Evan McPherson converted a 27-yard field goal at the 6:30 mark, followed by Franks’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Lamical Perine with 30 seconds remaining. That came three plays after Jeff Thomas fumbled a punt away, giving Florida a 17-13 edge.