Expanded box score
Published: Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 3:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 7:44 p.m.
The No. 1 Florida Gators and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide have a score to settle today in the Georgia Dome. A rematch anticipated since the end of last season, this one is for all the marbles.
It's frigid outside in Atlanta, but inside the Georgia Dome it's a perfect climate for the biggest game in SEC history. Florida has come out in all white uniforms, including the high-tech new Nike helmets they wore last week. Alabama wins the toss and elects to receive.
The Tide offense starts with a pass but is trying to quickly establish the running game with Mark Ingram. Alabama easily picks up three straight first downs to move deep into UF territory. On third-and-4 at the Florida 31-yard line, Julio Jones drops a perfect pass from Greg McElroy and Alabama settles for a field goal.
Florida's offense is nowhere near as effective as Bama, and the Gators go three-and-out due to intense pressure by the Tide defense. Back on offense, Alabama is mixing up their offense with great success. Passing to a wide-open tight end opens up a hole for Ingram. The Gator defense is on its heels and looks stunned. McElroy is having his way, as the Florida defensive line (minus the suspended Carlos Dunlap) is not getting close enough to apply pressure. Ingram bursts into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown. Place-kicker Leigh Tiffin's extra point attempt bounces off the right goal post.
Tim Tebow has the Gator offense finally in gear. He gets UF its first first down when he hits wide receiver Deonte Thompson over the middle to take Florida near midfield. Tebow is stuffed on his first running attempt but passes complete for another first down. Florida gets another first down when Tebow appears to run on third-and-3 but pulls up just shy of the line of scrimmage and passes to Riley Cooper on the Alabama 30-yard line. But UF goes backwards and settles for a 48-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal.
First quarter: Alabama 9, Florida 3
Alabama — Leigh Tiffin 48-yard field goal, 10:37. Nine plays, 47 yards and 4:18 Time of Possession (T.O.P.). Key Play: Greg McElroy 7-yard run to UF 45; UA 3, UF 0
Alabama — Mark Ingram 7-yard run (Tiffin kick no good), 5:33. Eight plays, 76 yards and 3:56 T.O.P. Key Play: Brandon Hicks defensive holding gives Alabama ball at UF 7; UA 9, UF 0
Florida — Caleb Sturgis 48-yard field goal, 0:28. Five plays, 56 yards and 5:05 T.O.P. Key Play: Riley Cooper 12-yard reception to Alabama 29-yard line on third-and-3; UA 9, UF 3
The Florida defense shows some teeth in stopping the Tide offense and forces a three-and-out punt. Brandon James nearly returns it past the Bama special teams unit, but he is brought down by the punter. Florida's miscues on offense continue, as a 9-yard run is wiped out by holding. UF receivers are not getting any separation and Florida punts after going three-and-out.
Alabama's offense, however, is another story. Quarterback Greg McElroy is the story of the game so far. He is commanding a diverse offense and making good use of secondary targets. Wideout Marquis Maze catches a pass and scoots away from the UF cornerback for a 34-yard gain to the UF 27. McElroy scrambles out of the pocket and gets another first down to the 17 with an amazing hopping dance along the sidelines. Florida's defense sells out on a blitz by linebacker Brandon Hicks and safety Ahmad Black, who takes down McElroy to halt the drive. Bama settles for another field goal.
The Gators strike quickly with their running game. Tailback Jeff Demps almost breaks a well-blocked sweep and then his block helps spring Tim Tebow on a long run. UF's offense now looks brutally efficient, and Tebow connects with a wide-open David Nelson on a touchdown.
The Tide comes right back with a huge play. Facing a blitz, McElroy dumps off to Mark Ingram, who blazes his way through the Gator defense and down the sideline before he's pushed out of bounds at the 4-yard line with a 69-yard gain. Ingram finishes the drive by rushing for another TD.
It's Florida's turn to hit the big play, as Tebow rears back and finds Riley Cooper for a 60-yard gain over the middle. The Gators almost recreate the Steelers' famous "Immaculate Reception," as a Tebow pass bounces off of tight end Aaron Hernandez's hands and right to Deonte Thompson. But there is no miracle and the ball bounces to the turf. Florida settles for a field goal with 1:18 left in the half. Alabama is happy to run out the clock and go into halftime with a six-point lead.
Second quarter: Alabama 19, Florida 13
Alabama — Tiffin 34-yard field goal, 6:03. 12 plays, 68 yards and 5:27 T.O.P. Key Play: Marquis Maze 34-yard reception to UF 27 on third-and-3; UA 12, UF 3
Florida — David Nelson 23-yard reception (Sturgis kick good), 4:31. Four plays, 70 yards and 1:36 T.O.P. Key Play: Tim Tebow 23-yard run to Alabama 38; UA 12, UF 10
Alabama — Ingram 3-yard run (Tiffin kick good), 3:32. Two plays, 72 yards and 0:59 T.O.P. Key Play: Ingram 69-yard reception to UF 3; UA 19, UF 10
Florida — Sturgis 32-yard field goal, 1:18. Five plays, 65 yards and 2:14 T.O.P. Key Play: Cooper 59-yard reception to Alabama 21; UA 19, UF 13
Florida has Jeff Demps return the second-half kickoff instead of Brandon James, who is out for the rest of the game according to the CBS broadcast crew. Florida gets close to a first down but punts from its own 39-yard line.
Alabama goes to tailback Mark Ingram to pick up a first down, and then quarterback Greg McElroy resumes his mastery of the Gator defense. He threads a pass to Marquis Maze for 28 yards in front of the Bama sideline and then lofts a perfect touch pass to tight end Colin Peak in the end zone for another touchdown.
The Gators pick up a first down on a Tim Tebow burst up the middle, but he throws three straight incompletions and UF is forced to punt again. With little rhythm on offense, Florida's hopes in this game are hanging by a thread. As they have all season, the Gators will rely on their defense to pick up the slack and turn the Tide.
Trent Richardson takes the first handoff of Bama's next possession and runs 25 yards. The Gator defense appears to also be in disarray. McElroy methodically works the Tide down the field. The Alabama offensive line is dominating the game for the most part. Like the third quarter in last year's SEC Championship Game, Bama cruises and looks like it cannot be stopped. The quarter ends this year with the Tide pushing for another score. This year, the hole that Florida must climb out of could be much bigger.
Third quarter: Alabama 26, Florida 13
Alabama — Colin Peek 17-yard reception (Tiffin kick good), 9:53. Five plays, 74 yards and 2:48 T.O.P. Key Play: Maze 28-yard reception to UF 32; UA 26, UF 13
FOURTH QUARTER: Alabama 32, Florida 13
Just as this game has gone so far, Florida's tired defense cannot stop Greg McElroy. Defensive lineman Justin Trattou has him squarely lined up for a sack, but McElroy spins away. The play sets up a first-and-goal that Mark Ingram easily cashes in for another Alabama touchdown. McElroy's pass for a two-point conversion is incomplete, but Florida is down 19 points. Is it an insurmountable lead?
Tebow is hit in the backfield as he throws and the play is ruled a fumble despite replays showing that his arm was clearly moving forward as he was hit. The play is overturned after further review. Tebow breathes life into Gator hopes as he completes passes to Hernandez and Nelson to put the Gators on the verge of a touchdown. But he passes directly to cornerback Javier Arenas, who kneels for a touchback.
Alabama tries to run out some clock and punts. Tebow chips away at the Bama defense and then strikes for 38 yards to Hernandez. Florida is back in the red zone, where it has struggled throughout the season. On fourth-and-3 from the 13, Tebow throws behind David Nelson and the pass falls incomplete.
Alabama tries again to salt away the game. This time the Tide are more effective at killing the clock with their three running backs. The clock ticks on the Gators' undefeated season and dreams of back-to-back SEC and national championships. Tebow is shown crying on the JumboTron, and Crimson Tide fans cheer even more heartily. Streamers fall from the ceiling of the Georgia Dome, as Alabama players dance to midfield to celebrate their SEC Championship.
Fourth quarter: Alabama 32, Florida 13
Alabama — Ingram 1-yard run (two-point conversion failed — pass incomplete), 13:49. 17 plays, 88 yards and 8:47 T.O.P. Key Play: Jaye Howard offsides penalty gives Alabama third-and-2 at own 45 instead of fourth-and-4; UA 32, UF 13TEAM STATISTICS
First downs — Florida 13, Alabama — 26
Rushes-yards — Florida 14-88, Alabama — 53-251
Passing — Florida 247, Alabama — 239
Comp-Att-Int — Florida 20-35-1, Alabama — 12-18-0
Return Yards — Florida 12, Alabama — 8
Punts-Avg. — Florida 4-48.8, Alabama — 2-41.5
Fumbles-Lost — Florida 0-0, Alabama — 1-0
Penalties-Yards — Florida 5-51, Alabama — 1-5
Time of Possession — Florida 20:23, Alabama — 39:37
Florida: Tebow 10-63, Demps 1-9, James 1-9, Rainey 2-7.
Alabama: Ingram 28-113, Richardson 11-80, Upchurch 7-57, McElroy 4-10, Team 3-(minus 9).
Florida: Tebow 20-35-1-247.
Alabama: McElroy 12-18-0-239.
Florida: Hernandez 8-85, Nelson 4-53, Cooper 3-77, Thompson 2-22, James 1-9, Hines 1-4, Moody 1-(minus 3).
Alabama: Maze 5-96, Peek 3-39, Ingram 2-76, J.Jones 2-28.
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