GAINESVILLE, Fla. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was good early and even better late, enough to help No.5 Florida snap a six-game losing streak against rival Miami.
Tebow threw two touchdown passes, speedster Percy Harvin ran for a score and the Gators used a swarming defense to beat the Hurricanes 26-3 Saturday night at The Swamp.
It was Florida's first victory since 1985 in the on-again, off-again series that used to be one of the best and most heated in the nation.
Miami (1-1), a three-touchdown underdog, hung close for three quarters.
Florida (2-0) struggled against Miami's defense most of the night. Still, Tebow finished 21-of-35 passing for 256 yards and two touchdown passes. He also ran 13 times for 55 yards. Harvin, who missed last week's opener while recovering from offseason heel surgery, ran five times for 27 yards.
Robert Marve, making his first start for Miami, was 10-of-18 passing for 69 yards and was sacked three times. The Hurricanes managed 140 yards and gave up 345.
The Gators, whose two first-half scores came off Miami miscues on special teams, led 9-3 to start the fourth quarter. But Tebow, Harvin & Co. finally found their rhythm, putting together consecutive drives of 86 and 95 yards to put the game away.
Florida took advantage of two favorable calls to score the first of the two late touchdowns. Tebow hooked up with Carl Moore for a 28-yard gain on third-and-9, putting the Gators at the 5-yard line.
Three plays later, on another third down, Miami's Randy Phillips was flagged for pass interference against Harvin. It gave the Gators a first-and-goal at the 2. Harvin took a pitch from Tebow on third down and outran several defenders for the score.
Florida's next drive was the most impressive of the night, a five-play, 95-yarder that sealed the victory. Tebow found Murphy – yes, the guy who spouted off about Florida being better suited than Miami to be referred to as “The U” – in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard strike.
The teams likely won't play again until 2013 in Miami.
They used to play every year, but the Gators dropped Miami in 1988 because they wanted to play a “more national schedule.” They promptly replaced the Hurricanes with Montana State. Miami fans accused Florida of pulling out because the Hurricanes were dominating – on the field and on the national scene.
After a 13-year hiatus, Florida and Miami renewed the rivalry in the 2001 Sugar Bowl and have played a few times since.
But the Gators kept ending up on the losing end.
Florida might not have even scored during the first half had the Hurricanes not made two errors on special teams.
Matt Bosher shanked a punt on the team's opening drive, a 14-yard kick that gave the Gators great field possession. Tebow made easy work of the short field, directing a 35-yard drive on five plays and giving Florida a 7-0 lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Miami then sucked the energy out of Florida Field – most of the record 90,833 in attendance were clad in the Gators' orange and blue – with a 16-play drive that took 8minutes, 42seconds off the clock and kept Tebow & Co. on the sideline. It ended with a field goal but gave the Hurricanes plenty of confidence.
The Gators added to their lead with another special teams blunder. Miami left Jeff Demps to rush unblocked at Bosher on fourth-and-24 at the 10. Demps blocked the punt, and the ball trickled out of bounds for a safety and a 9-3 advantage.
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