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Saturday November 18, 2006No. 3 Football Blanks Western Carolina, 62-0

Gainesville, FL

The 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.

 

The 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 gave Florida the opportunity to continue its drive. With 6:03 left in the third quarter, the Gators led by a 48-0 score.

 

On a 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 score.

 

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.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

 

 

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