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Tim Tebow Excels as Florida Tops LSU 23-10

8:34 PM, Oct 8, 2006   |    comments
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Top 25 Roundup By MARK LONG AP Sports Writer GAINESVILLE, FL (AP) -- Florida doesn't have a quarterback controversy. It's more like a quarterback coalition. Backup quarterback Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes, including one on a play that could have came from basketball coach Billy Donovan's playbook, and ran for a score to give the fifth-ranked Gators a 23-10 win against No. 9 LSU on Saturday. "You've got to be creative in this league," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. Florida improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1996 - the school's lone national championship season - and extended its home winning streak to 13 games. The Gators (4-0 Southeastern Conference) also beat the Tigers for the first time in three years and won their 18th straight homecoming game. Tebow made it look relatively easy. The highly touted freshman, who teams with starter Chris Leak to give Meyer maybe the nation's best quarterback combo, ran nine times for 35 yards, including a 1-yard plunge on fourth down that evened the score at 7 in the first quarter. "He's a rock 'em, sock 'em kind of runner," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Florida used him to their advantage." Said Meyer: "I want the ball in his hands right now. I know he's going to hang onto it." Leak did the bulk of the work with another steady performance, going 17-of-26 for 155 yards. Tebow grabbed the highlights, unveiling another side of his game. Although he threw nine passes in mop-up duty against Central Florida, Tebow had rarely used his left arm since - aside from an occasional stiff arm. That changed against the Tigers (4-2, 1-2). Facing a second-and-goal play with less than a minute remaining in the first half, Tebow took the snap and ran toward the line of scrimmage. He pulled up - much like a jump-shooter would - double clutched to allow tight end Tate Casey to get open, then kind of flipped the ball over several defenders. Casey caught it as he fell backward. "We'd rather our tight end not fumble around and fall down and do six push-ups and then get up and try to catch it," Meyer said, adding that the jump-pass was a throwback play to the early 1900s. "He's supposed to block-release and catch the ball, and he didn't. He kind of stumbled about. It's supposed to be much easier than that." Casey agreed. "That's one of those ones you don't want to drop," he said. The catch capped a 72-yard scoring drive that followed the first of three interceptions thrown by JaMarcus Russell. On the drive, Leak found Andre Caldwell over the middle for a 17-yard gain on third down and later connected with Jemalle Cornelius for 26 yards. "We've got two great quarterbacks," Casey said. "We can do a lot with them, and it showed." LSU's quarterback has had better days. Russell finished 24-of-41 for 228 yards with a touchdown. But he also had four turnovers. Tebow's passing performance continued after halftime. The Gators got a safety on the second-half kickoff. Early Doucet fumbled at the 3-yard line, gathered the loose ball briefly, but lost it again after he got leveled by Riley Cooper. The ball trickled into the end zone, and LSU teammate Trindon Holliday recovered for the safety. Five plays later, Tebow was at it again. He took a step toward the line of scrimmage to fake a run, pulled up and found Louis Murphy wide open down the middle for a 35-yard score. "You found out tonight that Tim can throw," Casey said. Florida essentially turned a tie game into a rout in a little more than three minutes and even shredded LSU's top-ranked defense. The Gators, playing without starting running back DeShawn Wynn, finished with nearly 300 total yards. They got plenty of help from LSU, too. The Tigers got a boost before the game when Arkansas upset No. 2 Auburn, opening the door for LSU to get back into the SEC West race. But LSU didn't take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, the Tigers self-destructed. Jessie Daniels fumbled a punt in the second quarter that led to Florida's tying touchdown. Russell fumbled a snap on the 2-yard line to end a 17-play drive. Instead of possibly going up 14-7, the Tigers later trailed by a touchdown at halftime. "The fumble was a big turn of events," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It really swung the momentum. We would've never thought we would go into the half behind." LSU also had the fumbled kickoff to open the second half, then had a punt blocked on the next possession. The Tigers also missed a 41-yard field goal. "We're on cloud nine," Gators defensive tackle Ray McDonald said. "But we know we can't be on cloud nine too long because we've got Auburn next week." Game scores and statistics

Associated Press

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