Gators Squeak Past the Hogs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Tim Tebow kept Florida's perfect season intact. Tebow directed a 69-yard drive in the final minutes, setting up Caleb Sturgis' 27-yard field goal with 9 seconds remaining that gave the top-ranked Gators a 23-20 win against Arkansas on Saturday.

Was it Tebow's Heisman moment?

Regardless, it kept Florida unbeaten and likely No. 1 in the country -- and maybe even the Gators' chances to repeat as national champions.

On a day when little went right for the Gators (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), Tebow took over down the stretch. He threw for 255 yards and a touchdown, ran for 69 more and saved his best plays for when Florida needed him most.

He threw for 30 yards and ran for 22 on the final drive. Three plays stood out: His 12-yard pass to Riley Cooper on third down (Cooper fell down, then caught the ball on one knee) and consecutive runs that gained 16 yards and got Sturgis well within his comfort zone.

Sturgis overcame an early miss and finished with three field goals, including a 51-yarder in the third. For much of the day, it was Florida's biggest play.

Just about everything that could go wrong for the Gators did and Arkansas, a week after knocking off Auburn showed that it is making fast progress in its second season under Bobby Petrino.

The Gators had four turnovers, three dropped passes, were gashed against the run and gave up more big plays in one game than they had all season. They missed a field goal and scored just once in their first four trips inside the 20-yard line.

But after struggling to move the ball on a chilly, sun-drenched afternoon, Tebow led the Gators to scores on three of their final four possessions.

He hooked up with Deonte Thompson on a 77-yard TD pass that gave Florida its first lead of the game, 13-10 with 2:59 to play in the third. Another deep pass to Thompson drew a pass-interference penalty and set up Jeff Demps' 10-yard TD run that tied the game at 20 midway through the fourth.

And Tebow put Florida in position for the game-winner with a 14-play drive that took just about all the time off the clock.

He had the kind of plays Florida fans expected all day against Arkansas, which entered the game with the league's worst-rated defense.

The Razorbacks looked like a team with something to prove. They stuffed Florida's high-powered running game, sacked Tebow six times and forced the Gators into mistakes.

They were nearly as good on offense.

Ryan Mallett threw for 224 yards, Dennis Johnson ran for 107 in place of injured starter Michael Smith (hamstring) and Greg Childs caught four passes for 135 yards.

Arkansas made a few costly mistakes, though.

Mallett overthrew fullback Van Stumon, who was wide open in the end zone, and had to settle for a field goal that tied it at 13. Then Alex Tejada yanked a 38-yard field goal with 3:08 remaining. It would have given Arkansas the lead. Instead, it gave Tebow the ball.


Fightin Gators Top Stories