an interception by junior defensive end Justin Trattou
(Ramsey, N.J.), the No. 1 Florida Gators (10-0, 7-0) defeated South
Carolina (6-5, 3-5), 24-14, in front of a crowd of 79,297 at Williams-Brice
Stadium. With the win, the Gators extended their win streak to a nationís-best
and school-record 20 games.
Urban Meyer moved into first place on the list of the all-time winningest SEC coaches in conference games with a win
percentage of .800 (32-8), surpassing Tennesseeís Robert Neyland.
Quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville , Fla.) finished the game 14-for-25 for
199 yards and one touchdown. The senior tallied 26 rushing yards on 16 carries
with one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.)
led the Gatorsí receiving corps with three receptions for 112 and one touchdown.
Cooper eclipsed the 100-yard receiving plateau for the second time this season
and third time in his career.
Junior Joe Haden (Ft.
Washington, Md.) led the defense with one interception for 20 yards, a sack
for a loss of nine yards, 11 tackles, two forced fumbles and one pass break up.
For the seventh time this season, the Gator defense held its opponent to under
100 rushing yards, moving past the 2008 mark of five games. The defense held South Carolina scoreless
in the second half after surrendering 14 points in the first.
Gator offense and defense could not have asked for better starts to the game.
On the first drive of the game, the defense held South Carolina to a quick three-and-out,
tipping two of the three pass attempts. The offense didnít need much time to
put points on the board as Tebow connected with
Cooper on a 68-yard touchdown pass to give Florida a 7-0 lead 2:56 into the
game. The grab matches Cooperís previous career long, first set against Charleston Southern in
the 2009 season opener.
The South Carolina offense
responded with their own scoring drive, theirs spanning 81 yards on 14 plays to
knock 6:31 off the clock. The Gamecockís Brian Maddox punched it in for a
one-yard rush to cap the drive and even the score 7-7 with 5:51 to play in the
first quarter. The score marked the first time this season that the Gator
defense allowed a touchdown in the first quarter.
Sturgis (St. Augustine, Fla.)
lead 10-7, connecting on a 32-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 remaining in
the first quarter. The kick capped an 11-play, 61-yard drive by the Florida offense which was highlighted by a 30-yard catch
by Cooper on third down and 12 to go, giving the Gators possession and a new
set of downs on South Carolinaís
Florida tacked another seven points on the
scoreboard on its first drive of the second quarter for a 17-7 lead with 10:28
in the half. Redshirt junior Emmanuel Moody (Coppell, Texas)
scored his first touchdown of the season on a 17-yard carry off a quarterback
option play from Tebow. The touchdown finalized an
eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
defense allowed South Carolinaís
offense to be on the field for all of two minutes before forcing the first
turnover of the game. Senior linebacker Brandon
Spikes (Shelby, N.C.) recovered his first fumble of the
season with 8:24 remaining in the half after quarterback Stephen Garcia fumbled
on a five-yard carry. Floridaís
offense took the ball 16 yards before Sturgis failed to convert on a 52-yard
field goal attempt.
Garcia and South Carolina took advantage of the field
position following the missed field goal, marching down the field 65 yards on
eight plays. The Gamecocks chipped into Floridaís
lead after Garcia found tight end Weslye Saunders in
the back corner of the endzone for a nine-yard
touchdown with a little over two minutes to play in the half. The Gators headed
into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
After holding South
Carolina to a quick three-and-out, Florida began their second drive of the half
one yard into Gamecock territory. The Gators found themselves at fourth down
and 17 on USCís 37-yard line and sent Sturgis out to attempt a 54-yard field
goal. For the second time that night, the kick had the distance but was wide
left of the uprights. The Florida defense took over and forced South Carolina
to their fourth three-and-out of the game, thanks in part to a quarterback sack
by sophomore Will Hill (West Orange, N.J.) for a loss of eight yards.
It appeared as if the momentum had
shifted to Floridaís favor as senior return
man Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) returned the ensuing punt for a season-long 49
yards to the South Carolina
37-yard line. However, the Gamecock defense stepped up to hold Floridaís offense on
fourth down and one yard and took over possession at their own 28-yard line.
Carolina and their offense built up an impressive drive, marching
49 yards down the field on ten plays, even converting on fourth down and two,
but the Gator defense came through as Trattou
collected his first interception of the season, second of his career, on a
Garcia pass from the Gatorsí 21-yard line. Trattou,
led by his defensive teammates blocking the way, returned the interception 53
yards to swing the momentum in Floridaís
favor. The Gators needed only four plays to capitalize on the turnover as Tebow scored on a one-yard keeper to extend the squadís
lead to 24-14 with 13:25 remaining in the game. With the score, Tebow matched Kevin Faulkís SEC record of 53 touchdowns.
The 24-14 margin remained as
Sturgis failed to connect from 29 yards out for his third miss of the game. The
Gator defense was relentless as Haden tallied his third interception of
the season and seventh of his career to give the Florida offense the ball with
a little over two minutes to play in the game and seal the 24-14 win for the
Orange and Blue.
The win over South
Carolina completes Floridaís
conference schedule. The Gators are back in action this weekend against Florida International University
at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The game is set for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.