Saturday November 1, 2008No. 5 Florida Overwhelms No. 8 Georgia, 49-10
The No. 5 Gators defeated No. 8 Georgia, 49-10, in front of a crowd of 84,649 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium Saturday. The win moves the Gators to 13-5 against ranked opponents under head coach Urban Meyer and brings UF to 7-1 (5-1 SEC), while Georgia falls to 7-2 (4-2 SEC). The 39-point Florida win was the Gators’ second-largest margin of victory in the Florida/Georgia series, with the largest margin of victory in 1996 when UF won, 47-7.
Junior quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) led Florida with three rushing touchdowns against the Bulldogs to tally 39 total career rushing touchdowns, solidifying his place as UF’s leader in rushing touchdowns. In addition to his 39 yards on the ground, Tebow was also successful in the air against Georgia, completing 10-of-13 passes for 154 yards, while tossing two touchdowns.
On the defensive front, Florida racked up three interceptions, while junior defensive back Joe Haden (Ft. Washington, Md.) led the Gators with 10 total tackles and one interception.
Florida struck first by capitalizing on a missed Georgia field goal on the Dogs’ second possession of the game. After UGA turned the ball over on downs, Florida drove 80 yards downfield for its first touchdown of the game. Tebow pitched a pass to junior Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) for a 13-yard scoring run, capped off by a Jonathan Phillips’ (Wellington, Fla.) point-after attempt to bring UF ahead, 7-0.
The Bulldogs answered on their next possession, driving 55 yards for a 35-yard field goal by UGA freshman Blair Walsh that narrowed the margin to 7-3. UGA followed the score with an onside kick that redshirt senior Butch Rowley (Orlando, Fla.) recovered for the Gators.
Tebow, freshman athlete Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) and junior wide receiver Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn.) teamed up to answer the Georgia score with a two-yard Tebow rush, followed by the extra point to claim a 14-3 advantage. Tebow’s touchdown run gave him 37 career rushes for touchdowns, surpassing Gator great Emmitt Smith and topping the Florida record books with the mark.
Led by a strong UF defensive stance on UGA’s fourth stanza of the game, Gator defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (Shelby, N.C.) teamed up for a quarterback sack on Georgia’s Matthew Stafford to halt Georgia’s march to the end zone. Forced to attempt a 27-yard field goal, Walsh missed his second attempt of the game, turning the ball over on downs and sending Florida into the locker room ahead, 14-3, at the half.
Haden ignited the Florida defense to open the second half, intercepting a Stafford pass on Georgia’s first possession of the half to return the ball 88 yards to the Georgia one-yard line. Tebow punched the ball in for a one-yard score, the 38th rushing touchdown of his career. Haden’s 88-yard interception return tied for the fourth-longest in school history, with the last 88-yard interception return by Anthone Lott against LSU in 1994. Phillips found the uprights to put UF ahead, 21-3.
After a Georgia three-and-out situation, the Gators struck again for another touchdown when Tebow found senior wide receiver Louis Murphy (St. Petersburg, Fla.) for a 44-yard trip to the end zone. Complete with the extra point, the Gators jumped ahead of the Bulldogs, 28-3, with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
The Florida defense proved to be too much for Georgia to handle, as Gator defensive tackle Terron Sanders (Bradenton, Fla.) recovered the first fumble of his career on a Knowshon Moreno drop, returning the ball 20 yards to set up Tebow’s third rushing touchdown of the game. The eight-yard touchdown run marked Tebow’s 40th career rushing touchdown, while Phillips’ extra point put UF ahead, 35-3.
On Georgia’s next possession, Florida linebacker Dustin Doe (Jasper, Fla.) picked off a Stafford pass, the first interception of his career, continuing the domination of the Florida defense. While the Gators failed to convert on the drive, sophomore safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland, Fla.) stepped it up for Florida on UGA’s next drive, recording the second interception of his career, and had a 64-yard interception return. Black’s interception set up the one-play Orange and Blue scoring drive, when Tebow connected with Harvin on a 25-yard lob to the end zone to increase the margin to 42-3.
Redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley’s (Ocala, Fla.) engineered a six-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard with a seven-yard scoring toss to redshirt freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson (Belle Glade, Fla.) with 7:21 left in the game. Following the extra point, the Gators held a 49-3 advantage.
It wasn’t until the 3:09 mark in the fourth quarter that UGA made its second score of the night on a 19-yard pass from junior quarterback Joe Cox to redshirt freshman tight end Aron White for the final margin, 49-10.
Stafford finished the day for Georgia completing 18-of-33 passes for 265 yards, while throwing three interceptions. Moreno led the Bulldogs in rushing with 65 yards on 17 carries, while senior Mohamed Massaquoi recorded a team-high 112 receiving yards on five receptions.
The Gators return to action Nov. 8 when they travel to Nashville to face Vanderbilt. Game time is slated for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN.