Haden's pick sprang rout

Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 9:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 9:12 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE With Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford carving up the Florida defense for big chunks of passing yardage early in the third quarter, Florida cornerback Joe Haden went on a hunch.

"I had been studying them on film since Tuesday," Haden said. "In the red zone, I knew they liked to run post corner routes."

Haden's instinct paid off. Stepping inside a post-corner route intended for Georgia freshman receiver A.J. Green, Haden intercepted a Stafford pass, then huffed and puffed his way 88 yards to the Georgia 1-yard line. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow plunged in from a yard out a play later, giving the Gators a 21-3 lead and taking the steam out of any Bulldog comeback hopes.

"That was the play of the game right there," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

Haden, who had been working on special teams throughout the game, admitted he ran out of gas late in the return. He came up a yard short of the first touchdown of his career.

"I was too tired to be (upset)," Haden said.

The interception was the first of three that Stafford threw in the second half. Florida also got interceptions from Dustin Doe and Ahmad Black, fueling the Gator rout.

Florida increased its interception total to 13 and has forced 20 turnovers in eight games.

"We talk about that a lot," Haden said. "It's kind of like a competition. Me and Ahmad and Major Wright, we want to get as many interceptions as we can to help the team."

Florida's defense gave up 292 passing yards and 112 yards receiving to senior receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. But the Gators came up with turnovers when needed and held Georgia to just 10 points in four trips inside the red zone.

"We moved the ball pretty darned well and ended up with turnovers, and you can't have that and expect to win a ballgame," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

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