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Saturday October 28, 2006Defense Keys Football's 21-14 Win Over Dogs

Jacksonville, FL

The No. 9 Gator football team improved to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference with a 21-14 victory over Georgia (6-3/3-3 SEC) in front of 84,572 fans at Alltel Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Florida’s defense forced five Bulldog turnovers and junior Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.) scored rushing and receiving to lift the Orange and Blue to the triumph. 


Florida received the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards on nine plays, capped by a 12-yard scoring run by Caldwell to begin the scoring. It was the fourth time this season that the Gators broke the ice on their initial possession. Caldwell accounted for 33 yards on the drive, with two receptions and two rushes. Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) also contributed a 20-yard rush down to the UGA 14-yard line before Caldwell notched his first rushing touchdown of the season two plays later.


After forcing the Bulldogs three-and-out at the outset of the second quarter, the Gators extended their lead to 14-0 on a 40-yard scoring toss from senior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) to Caldwell. The catch was Caldwell’s fourth receiving score of ’06, a season-high for the wideout. Freshman Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) had a 26-yard punt return into Georgia territory to set the stage for Leak’s 16th TD pass of the campaign with 9:37 remaining until halftime.


Florida went into the break with a 14-0 advantage after limiting Georgia to just 81 yards of total offense during the first 30 minutes. The Gators harassed freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford into 4-of-13 passing in the first half, while junior Ryan Smith (Diamond Bar, Calif.) snagged his team-leading fifth interception.


On the Bulldogs’ first play of the third quarter, sophomore Derrick Harvey (Greenbelt, Md.) forced a fumble by junior Kregg Lumpkin that was scooped up and run back nine yards by senior Ray McDonald (Belle Glade, Fla.). McDonald’s first career touchdown and the ensuing extra point by senior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.) moved the Gators in front by a 21-0 margin just 32 seconds into the frame.


Following a Leak interception near midfield, Georgia covered 52 yards on six plays in 2:17 to narrow the gap to 21-7. Stafford’s quarterback draw for 13 yards hit pay-dirt to put the Red and Black on the scoreboard with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter.


The Bulldogs forced a fumble by Tebow at Florida’s 14-yard line with 9:11 left in the game and scored three plays later on an eight-yard rush by Lumpkin to pull to within 21-14. After forcing the Gators to punt, Georgia regained possession on its own 38-yard line with 4:53 showing on the clock. UF’s defense rose to the occasion, as junior Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.) sacked Stafford for a six-yard loss on first down before two incomplete passes resulted in a punt by the Bulldogs. Later facing a third down and four with 1:26 left, senior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) had a six-yard carry for a first down that enabled the Gators to run out the clock.


Leak finished 14-of-28 for 163 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Caldwell matched his career-high of eight receptions for 88 yards and also rushed for 28 yards on five carries. Freshman Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) led UF with 37 yards on eight attempts, while Tebow gained 36 yards on six carries. Defensively, senior Earl Everett (Webster, Fla.) had nine tackles, including two for a loss, junior Reggie Nelson (Melbourne, Fla.) had seven tackles and a fumble recovery, Siler finished with six tackles and junior Jarvis Moss (Denton, Texas) had five tackles, forced a fumble and collected a sack.


For Georgia, Stafford was 13-of-33 for 151 yards with two interceptions, Lumpkin was the leading rusher with 43 yards on 11 carries and sophomore Brannan Southerland caught three passes for 31 yards.


The Gators return to action next Saturday when they travel to Nashville to face SEC Eastern Division rival Vanderbilt. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. and the game will be carried live on Lincoln Financial Sports.





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