Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ONE FOR THE ROAD; Quarterbacks Combine on Final Series as UF Ekes out Huge Win

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ONE FOR THE ROAD; Quarterbacks Combine on Final Series as UF Ekes out Huge Win

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Leak threw the game-winning touchdown pass in Florida's 21-20 victory over Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night, but his backup deserves a bunch of the credit, too.

It was former Nease High School standout Tim Tebow who picked up a critical first down -- gaining 2 yards on fourth-and-1 -- to keep the fourth-quarter scoring drive alive. Tebow was called on to bail the Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) out in front of 106,818 after Leak slid a yard short of the first-down marker on a third-down scramble.

Leak could have gained the first down had he lunged forward or lowered his shoulder to take on a tackler. Instead, he started his slide about 2 yards shy of the marker.

Tebow gained 2 yards by following fullback Billy Latsko off left guard, then trotted off the field. Leak came back in, and after a 5-yard run by DeShawn Wynn (104 yards rushing), hit Dallas Baker on a crossing pattern for a 21-yard touchdown and a 21-20 lead with 6:30 remaining.

"We knew he was a pretty good athlete," Tennessee defensive tackle Turk McBride said of Tebow, who played seven snaps and ran the ball on all seven for 29 yards. "We knew if he got in the game he was going to run it."

Safety Reggie Nelson sealed the victory when he intercepted an under-thrown Erik Ainge pass at the Florida 24-yard line with 2:47 remaining. The 13th-ranked Vols (2-1, 0-1 SEC) had only one timeout remaining, and UF was able to run out the clock after a 6-yard run by Wynn on third-and-6 with 1:20 remaining.

Florida, which scored on its second drive of the game, finally put together another drive that ended in points late in the third quarter to cut UF's lead to 17-14. Leak (15 of 25, 199 yards, 3 TDs) and Tebow combined to drive UF 72 yards in eight plays, and the drive ended with Leak's 4-yard touchdown pass to Baker with 1:16 remaining.

Tennessee responded with a 12-play, 43-yard drive that ended with James Wilhoit's career-long 51-yard field goal with 10:49 remaining in the game to take a 20-14 lead. UF took the lead for good on the ensuing drive.

Florida's defense stifled Tennessee's run game, holding the Vols to minus-11 yards on 23 carries. …

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