Swarming D corrals Smith
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Florida won an SEC championship last month by shutting down the eventual Heisman Trophy runner up. Fittingly, the Gators captured the school's second national title by silencing the Heisman Trophy winner.
Fueled by relentless pressure from its swift defensive ends, the Gators sent Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith scrambling all over University of Phoenix Stadium Monday night in the BCS title game.
Smith completed just 4-of-14 passes for 35 yards in the Gators' 41-14 win over the Buckeyes. Florida sacked Smith five times and intercepted him once. Smith also rushed 10 times for negative-29 yards.
"Florida is a great team," Smith said. "Can't say enough about those guys. They came out and fought."
It was a familiar scene. In the SEC title game on Dec. 2, Florida held Arkansas' Darren McFadden to just 73 yards on 21 carries and no touchdowns, far below his season average.
Spearheading the attack was the BCS title game Defensive MVP Derrick Harvey, a redshirt sophomore who emerged following the dismissal of defensive tackle Marcus Thomas in midseason.
Harvey finished with a career-high three sacks, a fumble recovery and four tackles. Harvey, who played in just nine games a year ago, was tied for third in the SEC with eight sacks. Each of those eight sacks came in the last 10 games.
Harvey's previous high in sacks was two, which occurred at Auburn on Oct. 14.
Applying just as much pressure from the other end was junior Jarvis Moss. Moss had two sacks and forced a key fumble.
Moss forced perhaps the biggest play of the game midway through the second quarter. Moss sacked Smith deep in Ohio State territory, forcing a fumble. Harvey recovered the ball at the Buckeyes' 14 and returned it to the five, setting up a Tim Tebow to Andre Caldwell 1-yard touchdown pass that put the Gators ahead 34-14 with 0:23 left before halftime.
Even when Smith had time to throw, the Gators were there to stop him. Cornerback Reggie Lewis intercepted Smith on a third-and-14 in the first quarter at the Florida 29.
In all, Florida's defense held Ohio State to just 82 yards of offense, 62 of which was accounted for by tailback Antonio Pittman on the ground.
Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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