(Saturday, November 14th)
Final Score: (1) Florida 24, South Carolina 14
Columbia, SC (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow finished with 199 passing yards and one touchdown while rushing for another as top-ranked Florida continued to roll with a 24-14 victory over South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Tebow completed 14-of-25 passes and rushed for 26 yards for the Gators (10-0, 8-0 SEC), who posted their 20th consecutive victory. The 22-year-old's one- yard score tied him with Kevin Faulk of LSU for the most combined touchdowns in conference history with 53.
Riley Cooper finished with 112 yards and a TD on just three receptions and Emmanuel Moody rushed for a score for Florida, which posted its first perfect SEC slate since 1996 under current South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. The Gators will host Florida International and Florida State over the next two Saturdays before clashing with Alabama in the SEC title game on December 5.
"With that pass to Cooper, we felt like we had control, but then they ran the ball with over 200 yards in the first half," said Florida head coach Urban Meyer. "The second half was just dominance with defense as well as I have seen."
Stephen Garcia ended 17-of-32 for 186 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5), who have dropped three in a row and four of five.
Brian Maddox rushed for 82 yards and a score on 17 carries and Weslye Saunders added a touchdown reception and 62 yards on five catches for South Carolina, which completes its 2009 slate by hosting Clemson on November 28.
Both sides traded missed scoring opportunities throughout a scoreless third quarter, but Garcia was picked off by Justin Trattou on the first play of the fourth quarter for 53 yards to the South Carolina 26.
Four plays later, Tebow kept it himself and plunged in from the one for a 24-14 contest with 1:35 played in the fourth.
Caleb Sturgis clanged a 29-yard field goal off the left upright with 4:01 remaining, but the ensuing Gamecocks drive was interrupted when Garcia was picked by Joe Haden who returned the ball 20 yards to the South Carolina 20.
"That turnover took a lot of steam (out of us)," admitted Spurrier. "Give Florida credit. They played pretty well. I don't know if by their standards they thought they played super, but our defensive guys fought to the end of the game. We just got overpowered on offense in the fourth quarter."
Florida protected its 10-point edge by pressing for the score, eventually reaching the four after Rainey gained 16 yards on four consecutive touches as time expired.
After holding South Carolina on the first series of the game, Florida received the ball on its own 14, but on a 3rd-and-3 from the 32, Tebow's 68-yard strike to Cooper put the Gators on top.
The Gamecocks responded on their next series, going 84 yards in 14 plays and tying the game on a one-yard plunge from Maddox, but the Gators took a 10-7 lead late in the period on a 32-yard field goal from Sturgis.
Moody's 17-yard run for a score put Florida ahead 17-7 roughly 4 1/2 minutes into the second, but Sturgis pulled a 52-yarder wide left with 6:04 left in the half.
South Carolina capitalized on the miss and pulled within 17-14 on Garcia's nine-yard pass for a score to Saunders.
Florida has won four consecutive meetings and leads the all-time series 23-4-3...The Gators racked up 339 total yards to 247 for the Gamecocks...Garcia was sacked six times.
11/14 23:13:52 ET