Stomped in the Swamp

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Tim Tebow made one huge play against Tennessee last year. He made nearly all of them Saturday.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow scores one of his two rushing touchdowns. He finished with four TDs and 360 total yards.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow scores one of his two rushing touchdowns. He finished with four TDs and 360 total yards.

Tebow threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, ran for 61 yards and two scores, and lifted No. 5 Florida to a 59-20 romp over the 22nd-ranked Volunteers.

Not bad for his first Southeastern Conference start.

Tebow completed two passes underhand and another one falling down. He hit Riley Cooper and Cornelius Ingram with perfect throws in the end zone and he ran over and around Tennessee defenders much of the day.

His performance even earned him a kiss on the side of the face from roommate Tony Joiner.

The defending national champion Gators (3-0, 1-0) extended their winning streak to 10, stretched their home winning streak to 18 and improved to 7-0 against their three biggest rivals under coach Urban Meyer. Florida hasn't lost to Tennessee, Georgia or Florida State since 2004.

Last year in Knoxville, Tebow replaced Chris Leak and converted a fourth-and-1 play in the fourth quarter that led to the go-ahead touchdown in the 21-20 victory.

He did much more Saturday.

His best play probably will be overlooked, too. He rolled left on fourth-and-3, bought time and then threw across his body to David Nelson for a 14-yard gain.

Percy Harvin scored on the next play, making it 42-20 and essentially sealing the victory on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Harvin shook two defenders, spun out of a tackle and then trotted into the end zone.

Harvin finished with 195 total yards - 75 rushing and 120 receiving.

Brandon James returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown, making two ankle-breaking moves before outrunning everyone else. The return gave Florida a 7-0 lead and all the momentum. Linebacker Dustin Doe's return meant even more.

Florida led 28-6 late in the second half, but Erik Ainge drove Tennessee 64 yards in about a minute. His TD pass to Chris Brown cut the lead to 28-13 heading into the locker room. Ainge was 26 of 41 for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Gators were ready to blow the game open, but instead Eric Berry had given the Volunteers (1-2, 0-1) plenty of juice. The Vols then forced a punt and had a chance to tie, but Arian Foster fumbled, and Doe returned it 18 yards to make it 35-20.

The Gators rolled from there.


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