Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Florida running back Lamical Perine had 181 total yards and three scores to lead the No. 9 Gators to a 36-28 victory over No. 24 Virginia at the 2019 Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Perine was dominant Monday night from the opening whistle, scoring on a 61-yard rush during the first minute of the game at Hard Rock Stadium. He finished with a career-high 138 rushing yards after logging just 538 yards on the ground during the season.
"Everyone gets caught -- well, [Perine's] stats say this or just what the stats say. But you know what, you look at every time we needed a big run during the season, he came up with a lot of big runs," Gators coach Dan Mullen told reporters.
The Gators (11-2) had the ball on their own 39-yard line when Perine broke free to give them a 7-0 lead 40 seconds into the game. Virginia (9-5) went on to tie the score with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Perkins to Terrell Jana on the next drive. The Gators then used a 13-play, 75-yard drive to take a 14-7 edge. Perine caught a touchdown pass from Kyle Trask to end that scoring drive.
Virginia tied the game again with a 14-play, 88-yard drive on the next possession, when Perkins connected with Hasis Dubois for a nine-yard score at the start of the second quarter. The Gators snatched the lead back with an Evan McPherson field goal.
Perine scored his third touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run with 2:13 remaining in the second quarter, giving the Gators a 24-14 lead at the break.
The second half began with five consecutive punts before McPherson made a 49-yard field goal for the Gators. Perkins threw another touchdown pass to Joe Reed at the start of the fourth quarter, cutting the Gators' lead to six points, before Florida responded.
Trask ended the seven-play, 65-yard touchdown drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The Gators then added another McPherson field goal, pushing their lead to 36-21. Virginia used an eight-play, 75-yard drive to score on their final possession. Perkins threw another touchdown toss to Dubois to end that drive.
Perkins completed 28 of 40 passes for 323 yards, four scores and an interception for the Cavaliers. Trask completed 24 of 39 passes for 305 yards, one score and an interception for the Gators. Trask also ran for 37 yards and a score, while Perkins was the Cavaliers' leading rusher, with 24 yards.
Jana had seven catches for 126 yards and a score for Virginia, while Dubois had 10 catches for 83 yards and two scores. Van Jefferson had six catches for a game-high 129 yards for the Gators.
"I think this win is huge for this program, not only for the program but also this team and the seniors that bought in when coach Mullen first got here from day one," Trask said.
"They worked day in and day out, and as far as my season went, I couldn't be more happy the way that my teammates had my back when I won versus Kentucky, and we just continued to grind every single week and get better each and every single week and here we are winning the Orange Bowl. That's pretty incredible."
Florida had 549 total yards and 244 rushing yards in the win, while holding Virginia to 52 rushing yards. The Gators have now put together back-to-back seasons with at least 10 wins for the first time since 2009.