Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators embrace this victory

JACKSONVILLE — When it was all over, when the final seconds had ticked off the clock and No. 5 Florida was celebrating its 49-10 victory over No. 8 Georgia, the truth finally came through.

Yes, the Gators were bothered all year long, nearly every day, about their bitter loss to Georgia last season. And no, it wasn't just about Georgia's infamous end zone celebration. It was just as much about how poorly its defense had played. How badly Florida looked overall against the Bulldogs.

So all week long, Florida's sole mission was to play the best defense it had all season. More important, to stop Georgia star running back Knowshon Moreno and not allow the Bulldogs to run all over the Gators as they had last season.

They executed that plan to perfection.

Holding its archrival without a touchdown until the final 3:09, Florida redeemed itself in front of 84,649 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The 39-point margin of victory was the second-largest for Florida in the 86-year series.

With a victory over Vanderbilt next week, Florida can clinch the SEC East title.

"(Defensive coordinator) Charlie Strong and his staff did a great job," UF coach Urban Meyer said. "As of Tuesday night, they were still preparing and adjusting their game plan. I thought he called a brilliant game and the players executed well. With great defense, you can win a bunch of ballgames and I thought we played great defense tonight."

Florida (7-1, 5-1 SEC) gave up 398 total yards, but held Georgia (7-2, 4-2) to 106 rushing yards. Moreno, the SEC's second-leading rusher, was held to 65 yards on 17 carries.

"The key was to stop the run," Strong said. "We knew that (Georgia quarterback Matthew) Stafford could throw the ball and they have very good receivers, but our whole key was to stop the run. The way Moreno ran against us last year, we could not let that happen."

The Gators intercepted Stafford (18-of-33 for 265 yards) three times — including an 88-yard return by Joe Haden and a 64-yarder by Ahmad Black. Both led to Florida touchdowns. Dustin Doe also had an interception and Terron Sanders' 20-yard return after recovering a fumble also led to a Florida touchdown.

"There's nothing soft about our defense," Sanders said. "It's a complete turnaround from last season."

While the defense set things up, the offense delivered.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was 10-of-13 for 154 yards and two touchdowns — a 44-yard pass to senior Louis Murphy and a 25-yarder to junior Percy Harvin.

"This was a game we felt would make our season and we got it," said Harvin, who had three receptions for 52 yards and four carries for 37 yards.

Tebow also rushed for three touchdowns, registering 193 total offensive yards.

"We were very emotional, but we were a lot more than emotional because emotion just lasts for 10 or 15 minutes. We were playing with passion, too. We were very passionate and that lasts a lot more than emotion does."

The Gators piled up 373 yards against a defense that entered the game ranked 21st in the nation, and had held opponents to an average of 20.3 points a game.

"Florida did a good job today, no doubt,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "… We can't let this loss hurt us the next time we play. The bottom line is we played and got whipped.''

With so much riding on this game, and the memories of last season, Meyer admitted the victory meant a great deal to him and the Gators.

"What does it mean?" he asked. "It means we're first place in the SEC East all by ourselves. It's a rivalry game and we've done fairly well against our rivals. It means a lot because it's a Top 10 team. This is a game we had to have."

Antonya English can be reached at

No. 5 Florida 49

No. 8 Georgia 10

Florida Gators embrace this victory 11/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 1:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.