Gators take early lead in BCS championship game


Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 10:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 10:24 p.m.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, but Florida quarterback Chris Leak led two quick scoring drives to give the Gators a 14-7 lead after the first quarter of the BCS championship game on Monday night.

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Glendale, AZ. - Cornelius Ingram gains 20 yards during the first quarter of the Tostitos BCS National Championship at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Brian W. Kratzer/The Gainesville Sun

Leak, who completed his first nine passes for 99 yards, looked more like a Heisman Trophy winner than Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith.

Ginn took the opening kick in the middle of the field, cut to his right and raced untouched down the sideline in front of the Florida bench. Sixteen seconds into the game, the top-ranked Buckeyes led 7-0.

It was Ginn's second career kickoff return for a touchdown.

Florida needed little time to answer. Aided by an Ohio State personal foul on the ensuing kickoff, the second-ranked Gators took over at the Buckeyes' 46-yard line.

Leak quickly went to work on the Ohio State defense, which allowed 10.4 points per game, fewest in the nation. Connecting on all five of his passes, Leak found receiver Dallas Baker alone on the left side for a 14-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 10:31 to go in the quarter.

The Gators forced Ohio State's powerful offense to punt after three plays. On the punt return, the Buckeyes committed their second personal foul of the game, giving the Gators the ball at the Ohio State 34.

On third-and-3 from the Ohio State 27, Leak hit Cornelius Ingram for 20 yards. Two plays later, Percy Harvin scored on a 4-yard option carry to make it 14-0.

Leak was 6-for-6 for 55 yards on the first two drives.

The Gators put relentless pressure on Smith, who was sacked only 13 times all season. Defensive end Derrick Harvey sacked Smith twice, for losses of 7 and 10 yards.

Smith was 1-of-3 for 11 yards and was intercepted by cornerback Reggie Lewis at Florida's 29 late in the quarter.

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