Florida Gators' Tim Tebow rights his game by running

MIAMI — On a night when Tim Tebow made rare mistakes with his arm, the Gators quarterback helped win another national championship with his legs in a 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS title game Thursday night at Dolphin Stadium.

As Florida struggled to establish a traditional running game, Tebow took over on a third-quarter drive that gave the Gators a 14-7 lead. Twice, Tebow converted third downs with long scrambles, setting up a 2-yard Percy Harvin touchdown run.

"He took the game over," wide receiver Louis Murphy said. "He told Coach to get the ball in his hands, and he ran with it."

Tebow opened that third-quarter drive with an 11-yard pass to former Clearwater Central Catholic standout Riley Cooper then didn't complete a pass the rest of the drive. He rushed for 12 yards on the next play, and facing a third and 4, he added a 15-yard run to the Oklahoma 31.

After two incompletions, Tebow did it again, scrambling 12 yards for another first down. After a 6-yard gain, Tebow ran the option to the right, waiting patiently before pitching to running back Jeff Demps, who got to the Oklahoma 1. Two plays later, Harvin gave the Gators the lead.

Tebow had his heaviest rushing load this season — his 22 carries and 108 yards were season highs. He took on a larger role when Demps struggled (23 yards on nine carries) and Chris Rainey was lost to what looked to be a serious knee injury in the second quarter.

Tebow's running helped overcome an uncharacteristically rough game throwing the ball (18-of-30 for 232 yards) — after tossing just two interceptions the entire regular season, he threw two in the first half, though Oklahoma wasn't able to convert either pick into points.

The Gators were able to rush for more than 200 yards despite little contributions from Demps and Rainey, though Harvin had gains of 45 and 52 yards, finishing with a game-high 121 yards on nine carries.

When it came time to close out the game, Tebow got it done through the air, too, completing a key third-down pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez on the final touchdown drive then getting the score on a 4-yard "jump pass" to receiver David Nelson.

Florida Gators' Tim Tebow rights his game by running 01/09/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 4:43pm]

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