6:00 PM ET, September 8, 2007
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM, GAINESVILLE, FL
Tebow threw three touchdown passes, ran for two more scores and led the defending national champions to a 59-31 victory over Troy Saturday night.
The Gators scored on all seven possessions in the first half. But they struggled in the second, turning the ball over twice and allowing the Trojans to slice the lead in half.
"I'm not disappointed at all,'' Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "We're 2-0. Go look around the country. There are other programs that aren't 2-0. I'll take it. I'm good. There's no bad. Now tomorrow, I'll be screaming and yelling and throwing coffee cups at the wall. But tonight it's good.''
The Gators moved the ball with relative ease early against Troy's soft zone. The Trojans (0-2) refused to give the Gators anything deep, keeping two safeties well back and prompting Tebow to throw underneath.
Tebow obliged, and the Gators ended up stringing together seven consecutive TD drives. They led 49-7 at halftime, and the starters figured to get much of the rest of the night off before facing SEC East rival Tennessee in a week.
"It's hard to say what happened,'' Troy linebacker Marcus Richardson said.
But the second half was much different from the first. Florida had two fumbles, two punts and two sacks, and the Trojans took advantage. Omar Haugabook ran for a touchdown, then hooked up with Austin Silvoy for two scores as Troy whittled into the lead.
"I don't think guys took off or anything,'' Tebow said. "I just think we had problems. I don't think anybody was letting up or wondering what they were doing after the game.''
Haugabook was 29-of-52 for 283 yards, with an interception, and Troy finished with 336 yards against Florida's inexperienced defense. Meyer said several players looked confused at halftime, not knowing what to do with such a big lead.
They looked even more flustered on the field.
Andre Caldwell fumbled on the first play of the third quarter, and Leodis McKelvin returned it to the 4-yard line. The Trojans, who nearly upset Florida State last year and played Arkansas tough last week, settled for a field goal.
The Gators punted on the next drive, and Haugabook capped a 68-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. Freshman Chris Rainey fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Troy had good field position again.
The drive ended when Greg Whibbs missed a 45-yard field goal. But the Gators punted the ball right back after Tebow was sacked on third down.
Haugabook hooked up with Silvoy for an 11-yard score, cutting the lead to 49-24 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.
The Gators looked like they would snap out of the funk following Joey Ijjas' first field goal of the season. But Haugabook found Silvoy for a 26-yard score with 7 minutes to go.
Tebow then took over.
After the 42-point lead was cut in half in the fourth quarter, Tebow scrambled for 25 yards, then Percy Harvin followed with a 20-yard run. Tebow ran a few more times and scored from 16 yards out to make it 59-31 with 2:50 remaining.
"We were a little frustrated going into the final drive, so we were determined to get it done,'' Tebow said.
Tebow finished 18-of-25 passing for 236 yards, connecting with Harvin, Cornelius Ingram and Jarred Fayson for scores. Tebow also ran 17 times for 93 yards. Harvin finished with 98 total yards, and Ingram caught seven passes for a career-high 105 yards.
The second half, though, provided plenty of concern for Florida as it heads into conference play against the 24th-ranked Volunteers.
Not only were there problems, but there also were injuries.
Running back Brandon James injured an ankle. Fayson was having his left knee checked out. And Caldwell sprained a knee ligament and was having an MRI.
"They think he'll be fine for next week,'' Meyer said of Caldwell. "Obviously, a major, major deal.''
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Florida scored 42 unanswered points in the first half. So much for Troy being a tougher opponent than Western Kentucky.
Gameball goes to... Tim Tebow. Florida's super sophomore threw three touchdowns on 18-of-25 passing (237 yards) and ran for two more (and 83 yards).
Stat of the game... 9. In what became a sloppy game late for the Gators, Florida racked up three times as many penalties (9) and twice as many turnovers as Troy.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-16||7-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||0-0|
|TD||10:46||Kestahn Moore 1 Yd Run (Joey Ijjas Kick)||0||7|
|TD||07:55||Omar Haugabook 31 Yd Run (Greg Whibbs Kick)||7||7|
|TD||04:52||Tim Tebow 3 Yd Run (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||14|
|TD||02:20||Percy Harvin 4 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||21|
|TD||14:56||Kestahn Moore 1 Yd Run (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||28|
|TD||09:55||Andre Caldwell 18 Yd Run (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||35|
|TD||02:57||Cornelius Ingram 5 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||42|
|TD||00:22||Jarred Fayson 3 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Joey Ijjas Kick)||7||49|
|FG||14:08||Greg Whibbs 21 Yd||10||49|
|TD||09:49||Omar Haugabook 1 Yd Run (Greg Whibbs Kick)||17||49|
|TD||02:53||Austin Silvoy 11 Yd Pass From Omar Haugabook (Greg Whibbs Kick)||24||49|
|FG||10:05||Joey Ijjas 32 Yd||24||52|
|TD||07:00||Austin Silvoy 26 Yd Pass From Omar Haugabook (Greg Whibbs Kick)||31||52|
|TD||02:50||Tim Tebow 16 Yd Run (Joey Ijjas Kick)||31||59|