Florida wins border war with Georgia 49-10
Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 12:57 a.m.
Thousands upon thousands of orange-and-blue and red-and-black clad fans have descended upon downtown Jacksonville on this partly cloudy, pleasant fall day for a college football border war.
Florida and Georgia are meeting for the 86th time, today in front of 84,649 fans. The Gators win the toss and defer the kickoff to the second half, giving the opening possession to the Bulldogs. The crowd, split down the middle in the end zone seats, is breathing fire already.
Florida's defense makes the first statement, stuffing nemesis Knowshon Moreno on the first two running plays, one a huge hit by middle linebacker Brandon Spikes. Georgia's offense goes backwards on a penalty and plays it safe with another Moreno run on third-and-very long, setting up a punt.
Florida takes over at midfield and, after getting stuffed on the ground as well, gets the game's first first down when Tim Tebow finds Percy Harvin on a quick slant for 9 yards. Facing third-and-4, Tebow runs up the middle and picks up another first down to the UGA 47.
The Georgia D flexes its muscles up front, stuffing two more Florida rushing attempts for a 1-yard loss. Facing a third-and-16, Florida can't get back to the original line of scrimmage and must punt.
Georgia takes over on its 18 and quarterback Matt Stafford hooks up with Mohamed Massaquoi for the game's first big play, a 32-yard pass over the middle. UF follows that with a roughing-the-passer penalty on Justin Trattou for 15 more yards, putting the Bulldogs on the Florida 35.
Georgia keeps moving with a screen and then a run to the right side by Moreno, setting up the 'Dogs on the UF 10. Carlos Dunlap sacks Stafford to push UGA back to the 16-yard line. Terron Sanders and Spikes combine to take down Stafford for another loss on the UF 20-yard line. Place-kicker Blair Walsh misses the field goal, giving UF the ball.
Tebow converts a third-and-2 with a short run to his left. Georgia coach Mark Richt challenges the spot but loses a timeout when the officials uphold their ruling on the field. The sun has poked out, just in time to see Harvin run for 20 yards down the UGA sideline to midfield.
Tebow fakes the handoff, rolls to his left and passes to Harvin for 19 yards to the UGA 31. After a penalty, Tebow runs up the middle for 9. A Louis Murphy drop sets up a Tebow interception by UGA's Prince Miller. But the play is called back on personal foul, giving UF a first down on the UGA 13.
Florida scores first when Tebow pitches left to Harvin who glides into the end zone untouched. There is no special celebration by the Gators, who lead 7-0 after the 9-play, 80-yard drive.
The first quarter ends on a Moreno dive up the middle after Georgia started on its own 28.
First quarter: Florida 7, Georgia 0
Stafford finds true freshman receiver A.J. Green for 3 yards, setting up a third-and-4 at the 34. Stafford strikes for 17 yards when he finds tight end Bruce Figgins over the middle.
After a pass out of bounds, Stafford suffers a bad drop by a wide-open Kenneth Harris. But Stafford hits Massaquoi on the UF 23, as Georgia receivers continue to find holes in Florida's defense. Georgia's progress is stifled, however, and the Bulldogs have to settle for a Walsh field goal.
Florida recovers an onsides kick at the UGA 42. Tebow finds tight end Aaron Hernandez for 18 yards in front of the Georgia sideline. Tebow runs for 7 yards up the middle, setting up a second-and-3 at the UGA 15. After a 5-yard run by true freshman tailback Jeff Demps, Tebow is stopped short but on fourth down runs ahead into the pile and manages to cross the goal line for another UF touchdown. With his 37th career touchdown, Tebow is now UF's all-time leader.
After Jonathan Phillips sends the kickoff out of bounds, Moreno runs for 7 yards to the UGA 47. More hard running by Moreno takes the Bulldogs to a couple of first downs and down to the UF 21-yard line. UF's defense tightens with a run stuff and a sack by Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham. But Stafford passes to Massaquoi over the middle just as Spikes hammers him.
From the UF 6, Stafford misses a wide-open Tripp Chandler in the end zone and the Gators stop Moreno for a 3-yard loss. On third-and-goal from the 9, Stafford's pass in the end zone bounces off of Moreno's facemask. Walsh's field goal bounces off the left upright, and another Georgia drive goes for naught.
Florida takes over at its 20 and gets a 5-yard run by Chris Rainey but is stuffed on two more runs up the middle. The Gators are content to let the clock run out on a solid first half. A 36-yard Chas Henry punt gives the Bulldogs with ball on their own 35, and UGA kneels to end the half.
Second quarter: Florida 14, Georgia 3
Florida came out of the half determined to play less conservative, but the Gators' drive was derailed by a bad drop by Brandon James. Florida's James Smith downed UF's punt on the 2.
Georgia got some breathing room on a run by Moreno and a pass over the middle by Stafford, who picked up another first down on a 14-yard pass to Chandler over the middle to the UGA 36. Moreno then burst off right tackle past midfield, dragging would-be tacklers for an 18-yard gain to the UF 48.
Stafford continued Georgia's crisp drive with a 16-yard timing pattern completion to Green. Stafford's next pass is intercepted by cornerback Joe Haden, who races down the UF sideline 88 yards to the 1-yard line. It is the fourth-longest interception return in school history. Tebow converts it into six points for Florida, and the Gators get the extra point for a 21-3 lead.
With momentum on its side, Florida's defense begins to assert itself, stopping Moreno for no gain. Stafford's third-down pass over the middle is batted down on a nice play by diving linebacker Dustin Doe. The Gators get a crucial three-and-out and Georgia punts to the UF 44-yard line.
Eschewing a conservative approach, Tebow rolls left and finds wideout Riley Cooper for an 8-yard gain and then fires incomplete to Harvin on the right sideline. From the Georgia 47, Tebow carries for 4 yards behind a big push from the interior of the UF offensive line. With a first-and-10 from the UGA 44, Tebow hits Murphy in stride for a touchdown. Florida leads 28-3.
On its next possession, Georgia drives to its own 41 thanks in part to a reception by Green that Urban Meyer challenges and loses. Moreno fumbles on the next play and Sanders recovers, spinning his way down to the UGA 10. Tebow bursts up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown, sending some Georgia fans to the exits with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
With the UF defense sagging to protect its large lead, Stafford goes to work with another pass over the middle to Massaquoi, followed by a pass to Michael Moore to get near midfield. Stafford is picked off on an athletic play by Doe, who tips a pass and dives for the interception at the UF 41.
Third quarter: Florida 35, Georgia 3
The Gator offense goes backwards and UF is forced to punt. Henry booms one more than 50 yards to pin the Bulldogs in front of their own end zone. After trading penalties, Stafford unloads a 54-yard completion to a leaping Green. Stafford's next pass is tipped by Doe and intercepted by Ahmad Black, who returns it 64 yards. Tebow makes it a rout by finding Harvin all alone in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
Georgia's Richard Samuel returns the kickoff 60 yards, but there are few cheers for the Bulldogs since most of their fans have been replaced by empty teal seats. The 'Dogs turn the ball over on downs. Florida takes over and little-used running back Emmanuel Moody rips off a 28-yard run and pumps up the crowd.
Backup quarterback John Brantley passes twice to Deonte Thompson, as Florida goes with its reserves. The Gators have a first down on the Georgia 18-yard line. After a couple of attempts, Brantley and Thompson connect again for a touchdown. UF leads, 49-3.
Georgia inserts backup Joe Cox at quarterback. With more than six minutes to go, both teams are looking to run out the clock. Cox drives the 'Dogs down the field and culminates a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Aron White.
Florida is running hard with Moody, and Meyer calls timeouts with 44 and 30 seconds left to the delight of the Gator crowd, which has stayed in full force.
Fourth quarter: Florida 49, Georgia 10
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