football team defeated the University
of Iowa, 31-24, at The
2006 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in front of 65,881 fans on Monday
afternoon. In finishing 9-3 overall, Urban
Meyer’s team became the first in school history to defeat Tennessee,
Georgia and Florida State and win its bowl game in the same
receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.)
was chosen as the game’s Most Valuable Player after posting the second-highest
receiving yardage total in Outback Bowl history with 147 yards. He posted
career highs in yardage and receptions (10) and matched a personal best with
touchdown receptions of 24 and 38 yards.
Gators forced Iowa three-and-out on the
opening possession of the game, junior Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.)
blocked the punt attempt by Hawkeye junior Andy Fenstermaker.
Junior Tremaine McCollum (Miami, Fla.)
then picked up the loose ball and scampered six yards into the end zone on UF’s fifth blocked kick of the season. The score marked the
first time in Florida’s
33 bowl appearances that the Gators had blocked a punt for a touchdown. Junior Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.)
tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead just 1:35 into the game.
ahead 10-0 with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal by
Hetland. The kick capped off a 15-play, 53-yard drive
for the Orange
and Blue that lasted 7:23. Junior Chris
Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) was 3-for-4 on the drive for 23
yards and Hetland atoned for a 23-yard attempt that
was wide right earlier.
remaining until the half, senior Vernell Brown (Gainesville, Fla.)
picked off a pass from Iowa
junior quarterback Drew Tate and raced 60 yards into the end zone for his first
career touchdown and a 17-0 lead. Brown’s third career pick marked the Gators’
first interception return since Keiwan Ratliff had a
52-yard TD versus Vanderbilt on Nov. 8, 2003.
Set up by a
47-yard kickoff return by sophomore Damian Sims to Florida’s 39-yard line, the Hawkeyes narrowed the deficit to 17-7 with 1:10 left in the
second quarter on a 20-yard pass from Tate to senior Clinton Solomon.
The Gators countered
with a quick drive of their own, culminated by a 24-yard, acrobatic catch by
senior Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.)
with one tick on the clock before the break. Florida covered 80 yards in eight plays and
was aided by a running into the punter penalty on fourth down that extended the
drive. On the next play, Leak rushed for two yards and a 15-yard personal foul penalty
on Iowa put
the ball on the Hawkeyes’ 37-yard line. Following a
six-yard reception by Baker and a timeout with 13 seconds left, Leak found
Baker for seven yards to the 24-yard line. On the next play, the quarterback
found his teammate again down the right sideline just past the pylon for his
19th passing touchdown of the campaign. Although the play was reviewed to
ensure that Baker was in bounds, the receiver’s fourth TD reception of the year
combination worked to perfection for Florida’s
first score of the second half, as Baker hauled in a 38-yard reception with
5:23 left in the third frame and hit pay dirt for a 31-7 UF cushion. Baker’s
second touchdown of the afternoon not only matched his career high, established
on Oct. 2, 2004, it enabled him to exceed 100 yards receiving for the third
time this season and in his career.
muffed punt by junior Chad
Jackson (Hoover, Ala.)
that was recovered by Iowa at UF’s five-yard line,
the Hawkeyes narrowed the gap to 31-14 on a four-yard
pass from Tate to senior Ed Hinkel with 13:51
remaining in the contest. Tate connected with Hinkel
again at the 6:59 mark of the final quarter on a 14-yard pass which capped a
nine-play, 72-yard march down the field by the Iowa offense to bring the Hawks within 10
Iowa’s defense stepped up on the next Florida drive to stop the Gators on their
own 30-yard line to take over the ball after UF failed to convert on fourth
down and six. Another nine-play Hawkeye drive ended with a 45-yard field goal
by junior Kyle Schlicher to bring Iowa within a touchdown at 31-24 as the
clock read 1:24 to play in the game.
called on Iowa after it recovered its own onside kick on the next play pushed
the Hawkeyes back five yards and forced them to re-kick.
Jackson took control of the onside kick the
second time around to erase any hopes of an Iowa comeback.
finished 25-of-40 for 278 yards and two touchdowns, the fourth time this season
he has passed for multiple scores. In addition to Baker’s 10 receptions, Jackson caught seven
passes for 76 yards and extended his SEC-leading streak to 24 straight games
with a reception. Freshman Kestahn Moore (Arlington, Texas)
led the Gators with a career-high 88 yards on 13 carries.
For Iowa, Tate was 32-for-55
for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Hinkel made
nine receptions for 87 yards and scored twice. Hawkeye senior linebacker Abdul
Hodge set an Outback Bowl record with 19 tackles, 14 solo, while junior Dee Webb (Jacksonville, Fla.)
had a team-high 10 tackles for the Gators. Florida
junior punter Eric Wilbur (Winter Park, Fla.)
averaged 46.3 yards per kick, highlighted by a UF bowl record punt of 63 yards.