(Saturday, October 17th)
Final Score: (1) Florida 23, Arkansas 20
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Caleb Sturgis' 27-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the game lifted top-ranked Florida to a 23-20 win over Arkansas.
Tim Tebow threw for 255 yards and a touchdown on 17-of-26 attempts for the Gators (6-0, 4-0 SEC), who overcame four fumbles, three of which came in the first half, to extend the program's and nation's longest winning streak to 16 games.
Aaron Hernandez led all Gator receivers with 92 yards on seven catches, while Riley Cooper made six grabs for 58 yards.
Ryan Mallett completed 12-of-27 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown for the Razorbacks (3-3, 1-3), who had won two straight. With running back Michael Smith held out of the lineup due to a hamstring injury, Dennis Johnson rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries to pace Arkansas' ground attack.
Greg Childs had 135 yards and a touchdown on four receptions in defeat.
"We had a lot of confidence coming in," Mallett said. "We gave ourselves a chance but just didn't come through in the end."
Arkansas took a 20-13 lead on a 75-yard pass play between Mallett and Childs with 9:40 to play in the fourth quarter. The touchdown came on 3rd-and-17.
Tebow then led a five-play, 67-yard drive that featured a defensive pass interference penalty and a questionable personal foul infraction against Arkansas' Malcolm Sheppard. The latter penalty set up a first-and-goal at the 10 and Jeffery Demps scampered to the left corner for the tying score with 7:27 remaining.
The Razorbacks looked to reclaim the lead a little over four minutes later, but Alex Tejada missed a 38-yard field goal.
Florida got the ball back at its own 21 with 3:08 remaining. Tebow hit Cooper with a pass that placed the ball near midfield on second down, and later found him again on third down for a 12-yard completion at the Arkansas 28. After five consecutive runs by Tebow moved the ball to the 10, Sturgis provided the heroics with his leg.
"That was a great, tough win," said Florida head coach Urban Meyer. "First off, I have a lot of respect for that team we played. I kind of knew it would be a tough one and I also got the feeling that our players were fairly confident heading into it. But in most cases, if you turn the ball over four times, you usually don't win that kind of game. This team did a good job. Again, I have a lot of respect for our opponent because that was a tough, tough game. I think our players showed a lot of character by coming back at the end of that game."
The Gators marched down the field on their first drive of the game, but came away empty handed when Sturgis missed a 37-yard field goal wide left.
Arkansas capitalized on a Tebow fumble forced by Jake Bequette late in the opening period to produce the game's first points.
Zach Stadther recovered for the Razorbacks at the Florida 31-yard-line. Later in the drive, Broderick Green surged 15 yards on third down to set up 4th- and-1 from the six which Mallett converted on a sneak. Green then picked up four yards on final play of the opening stanza and capped the drive with a one-yard plunge on the initial play of the second quarter. It marked the first time Florida has trailed all season.
Florida turned the ball over with two fumbles on consecutive trips inside the red zone before Sturgis drilled a 30-yarder through the uprights with 1:40 remaining in the second. Tejada kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to give the Razorbacks a surprising 10-3 lead at halftime.
The opening drive of the third quarter ended with Sturgis connecting from 51 yards out, a new personal best.
Later in the third, Tebow completed a short toss to Chris Rainey, who ran for 14 yards to the Florida 28, where he coughed it up. Tramain Thomas fell on the ball for the Razorbacks, who looked to extend the lead. Tejada came on and pushed a 40-yard attempt wide right with 3:10 remaining.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Deonte Thompson got behind the Arkansas defense and hauled in a pass from Tebow for a 77-yard touchdown that made it 13-10 in favor of the Gators.
Tejada's 31-yard boot tied the game in the dying seconds of the third.
Tebow was sacked six times...Florida's defense recorded four sacks...Demps finished with 54 yards on nine carries, while Tebow amassed 69 yards on the ground...Green ran 10 times for 40 yards...The Gators improved to 8-1 lifetime against Arkansas...Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes left the game with a groin injury...The Razorbacks were 2-for-13 on third down...Florida visits Mississippi State next Saturday, while Arkansas travels to Ole Miss.
10/17 22:33:59 ET