Saturday September 22, 2007Tebow's Big Day Propels Football over Ole Miss, 30-24
Ole Miss was able to strike first on a 40-yard field goal by Joshua Shene with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter after a 55-yard kickoff return by Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) to open the game.
The scoring opened up in the second quarter as Florida and Ole Miss traded touchdowns on ensuing possessions. Harvin put the Gators on the board first with a 19-yard touchdown on a screen pass, his third of the year. Harvin caught five passes on UF’s second possession of the game in nine plays.
After Shene connected on his second field goal of the game, a 32-yard boot, Tebow led Florida down the length of the field on a 98-yard scoring drive capped by his nine-yard scoring run.
Florida carried a 14-6 lead going into halftime and came out of the break strong, scoring touchdowns on its first two offensive possessions.
After Shene’s third field goal to pull Ole Miss within 12 points, Tebow found junior Louis Murphy, (St. Augustine, Fla.) for his second career touchdown on a 37-yard catch-and-run, spinning out of two Ole Miss defenders on his way to the end zone.
Ole Miss countered back with two scoring strikes through the air and a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to three points but Tebow forced Ole Miss to call all three timeouts in Florida’s possession and burn up the remaining 3:01 on the clock.
Tebow led the way for Florida’s fourth 500-yard offensive outburst in as many games this year, rushing for a career-high 166 yards and accounting for four touchdowns. Tebow’s rushing total was the highest by a quarterback in school history, surpassing Larry Rentz’s 109 rushing yards against Tulane in 1967.
Tebow, who leads all signal-callers in the nation in rushing touchdowns with eight, scored on six and yard-plunges in the second and third quarter to give UF a 15-point cushion. He engineered time-consuming drives, managing the offense to force Ole Miss to burn timeouts in the waning moments of the fourth quarter and close out the game.
His 27 rushing attempts shattered his previous best of 18 set in last week’s game against Tennessee and was just one shy of the school record by a sophomore, held by Emmitt Smith in 1988 against Kentucky.
Tebow etched his name in the Florida record books with the sixth-highest total offense output in school history with 427.
Tebow completed 20 of 34 passes for 261 yards with two scores through the air to give him 10 on the season.
Harvin had a career-best 11 receptions for 121 yards and his third touchdown of the year. Harvin stretched out the Rebel secondary, twisting out of an array of tackle attempts and hauled in seven passes before halftime. Harvin took over the team lead in receptions, passing Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne, Fla.) and Murphy, who came into the game tied with 11. He had the most receptions by a Gator since 2002 when Taylor Jacobs had 11 receptions against Auburn.
Harvin’s individual effort marked the second straight week he went over the century mark. Against Tennessee he totaled 120 yards on four catches. His 11 receptions were just four shy of the school record set by Carlos Alvarez against Miami in 1969.
The Gator defense was stout against the run, yielding 80 yards of net rushing and holding Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to 37 yards on 11 carries, well below his season average of 4.8 yards per carry.
Senior safety Tony Joiner (Haines City, Fla.) registered his first interception of the season in the fourth quarter, halting a Rebel drive and preserving Florida momentum.
Defensive ends Derrick Harvey (Greenbelt, Md.) and Jermaine Cunningham (Stone Mountain, Ga.) were able to provide pressure on quarterback Seth Adams and record a sack apiece. True freshman cornerback Joe Haden (Ft. Washington, Md.) paced the team with seven tackles and broke up three passes.
The Gators return home next weekend at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium when they take on Auburn. The start time will be announced Sunday afternoon.