third-ranked Gator football team celebrated Senior Day in impressive fashion on
Saturday afternoon with a 62-0 shutout of Western Carolina
in front of 90,233 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Freshman Brandon James (St.
Augustine, Fla.) set a school
record with 155 punt return yards, highlighted by a 77-yard touchdown return,
freshman wide receiver Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.)
hauled in three TD passes and freshman quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.)
scored twice rushing and also threw a pair of touchdowns. Florida (10-1) rolled up 582 yards of total
offense, scoring eight offensive touchdowns, and its defense limited the
Catamounts to 59 yards, the lowest total against the Gators in school history.
Senior DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio)
opened the scoring just 4:40 into the game with a 26-yard rush up the middle.
Senior Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.)
connected with four different receivers on the seven-play, 65-yard drive. After
UF forced Western Carolina three and out, James returned the ensuing punt 29
yards down to Western Carolina’s 29-yard line.
Wynn completed the seven-play scoring drive with a seven-yard rush into the end
zone and the successful PAT resulted in a 14-0 margin. Wynn's fifth rushing
score of the year was the 24th rushing TD of his career, tying him for seventh
in school history, while the run enabled him to become the 13th Florida player
to reach 2,000 career yards rushing.
Freshman Jarred Fayson (Tampa, Fla.) started
the second quarter at quarterback for the Orange
and Blue with three consecutive runs totaling 41 yards, including a quarterback
draw that went for 27 yards. Three plays later, with Leak back behind center,
Cooper caught the first touchdown of his career on a seven-yard sideline pass. Although
senior Eric Nappy’s
(Gainesville, Fla.) point-after was blocked, the 73-yard
drive improved the Gator lead to 20 points with 11:57 left until the half.
With Tebow in at quarterback on Florida’s next possession, the Gators drove
58 yards down field on five plays to put another touchdown on the board. Tebow's scoring run of 20 yards resulted in a 27-0
advantage. After the Gator defense forced the Catamounts three and out, James
received the punt at UF's 23-yard line and took it 77
yards for Florida's first punt return for a TD
since Lito Sheppard ran one back 57 yards against South Carolina on Nov.
11, 2000. The hosts held a 34-0 lead at the break and out-gained Western Carolina, 240-31.
Florida scored on its opening possession
of the second half following an eight-play, 63-yard drive. Tebow
scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, giving him a team-high seven
for the season, on a one-yard rush. The rookie completed all three of his
passes on the drive to sophomore Cornelius
Ingram (Hawthorne, Fla.) for a total of 47 yards, which
included a screen pass that went for 29 yards.
Gators' next score occurred when Fayson ran a
quarterback draw eight yards into the end zone, which marked the first
touchdown of his career. Tebow completed a key
23-yard pass to sophomore David Nelson (Wichita Falls,
Texas) on a third down and eight which
the opportunity to continue its drive. With 6:03 left in the third quarter, the
Gators led by a 48-0 score.
five-play, 80-yard drive that took only 1:06, UF extended its margin to 55
points on a career-high 55-yard bomb from Tebow to
Cooper early in the fourth quarter. The Gators' final scoring drive resulted
from another Tebow-Cooper combination, as Cooper
snagged a 20-yard slant pass from his classmate to become the first freshman to
score three receiving touchdowns in a game since Jabar
Gaffney accomplished the feat during the 2000 campaign. Freshman running back Mon Williams (Mesquite, Texas)
had consecutive rushes of 14, 25, and 19 yards on the drive to help set up the
In a day
filled with many highlights, Tebow was 10-of-12 for
200 yards passing and two TDs and he rushed six times
for 47 yards and two scores. Leak was 9-for-12 for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Williams led the Gator rushing attack with a career-high 95 yards on nine
carries, while Fayson had seven attempts for 77
yards. Ingram had a career-best four receptions for 59 yards, while Cooper also
set a personal-best with three catches for 82 yards - all touchdowns. Freshman Brandon Spikes (Shelby, N.C.)
paced the UF defense with six tackles.
Florida will conclude its regular season next Saturday at noon
when it visits Florida
State. The game will be
carried by ABC Sports.