Gators Back in Win Column

Florida broke back into the win column against Arkansas Saturday, but Urban Meyer and his staff can't be thrilled with what they saw in Fayetteville. The Gators won 38-7 but again struggled to put away an opponent they were favored against by more than three touchdowns.

Florida built their lead during a first half which was incredibly choppy thanks to a flag happy referee crew led by Penn Wagers. Each team was flagged for eight penalties in the first half alone, with Florida finding themselves facing 1st-and-35 and 1st-and-30 at different times in second quarter.

The Gators put the ball in the end zone on their first possession, with Brandon James taking a Tim Tebow shovel pass for two yards on third down to make it 7-0. That drive had been prolonged when Urban Meyer shunned a potential field goal in favor of a Tebow run on 4th-and-1 from the Razorbacks' six. Tebow converted with a two-yard carry.

Arkansas was able to move the ball consistently against the Gators early on, with each of their first three possessions ending in Florida territory. Carlos Dunlap's sack of Casey Dick at Florida's 37 ended their initial threat. The Razorbacks turned it over on downs again their second time with the ball, as Dick completed a pass to D.J. Williams for just six yards at UF's 22 on a 4th-and-7. Their third possession resulted in a punt from Florida's 41 which was downed at UF's 1-yard line.

Florida's second touchdown of the first half began on that possession at the one, which is when the flags really began to fly. After five different penalties in the span of six plays, Florida's Chas Henry hit a 41-yard punt. Arkansas returner Michael Smith muffed the punt and Florida's Brandon James dove on the lose ball at Arkansas' 16. Florida was immediately hit with 20 more yards of penalties on the next two plays before freshman Jeff Demps took a handoff and raced 36 yards to the end zone to give the Gators a 14-0 lead.

You can watch a lot of games and not see many one play, 16 yard drives capped with a 36-yard touchdown run.

"It wasn't pretty out there at times," said Tim Tebow.

Arkansas threatened Florida late in the half again, but cornerback Joe Haden snuffed their final drive of the half with an interception of Dick at the UF goal line.

The Gators appeared to open the second half with a touchdown, but the Brandon James 94-yard return was nullified by a block in the back penalty. Florida again shunned a field goal with a Tebow run on 4th-and-1 at the Arkansas' 26 and converted successfully. A sack stalled the drive and Jonathan Phillips converted with a 37-yard field goal to make it 17-0.

After Arkansas finally reached the end zone to narrow the score 17-7 with 5:50 to go in the third, Florida appeared ready to score again before Tebow was intercepted at the Razorbacks' 26. That throw snapped Tebow's Florida record string of passes without an interception at 204. For the day he went 17-of-26 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

After the turnover Tebow put together his sharpest drive of the day, completing all four of his passes for 74 yards on a drive capped off by a Percy Harvin 21-yard reception for a touchdown to make it 24-7. That seemed to finally break Arkansas' spirit, and Florida went on to add a 75-yard touchdown run from Chris Rainey and a 48-yarder by Jeff Demps to reach the final tally of 38-7.

Those big runs gave Florida a pair of 100-yard rushers on the game as both Rainey and Demps each got to 103. Rainey did it on 10 carries and Demps in just seven. Percy Harvin missed some time with an ankle injury, giving both freshmen more opportunities than usual.

Florida is now 4-1 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. LSU visits Gainesville next Saturday for an 8 p.m. game. The Tigers had a bye this week to get ready.


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