No. 4 Florida solid early, sloppy late in 59-31 win over Troy
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 4 Florida was nearly perfect early and sloppy late.
Tim Tebow threw three touchdown passes, ran for two more scores and led the defending national champion Gators to a 59-31 victory against Troy on Saturday night.
Florida scored on all seven possessions in the first half, moving the ball with relative ease against Troy's soft zone.
The Trojans (0-2) refused to give the Gators (2-0) anything deep, keeping two safeties well back and prompting Tim Tebow to throw underneath.
Tim Tebow obliged, and the Gators ended up stringing together seven consecutive scoring drives. They led 49-7 at halftime, and the starters figured to get much of the rest of the night off before facing SEC East rival Tennessee in a week.
But the second half was much different from the first.
Florida had two turnovers and two punts, and the Trojans took advantage. Omar Haugabook ran for a touchdown, then hooked up with Austin Silvoy for two scores as Troy whittled into the lead.
Haugabook finished 29-of-52 for 283 yards, with an interception. Troy finished with 336 yards against Florida's inexperienced defense.
Florida's 42-point lead was cut in half in the fourth quarter. Haugabook's second TD pass made it 52-31 with 7 minutes to play, but Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin ended any thoughts of a comeback.
Tim Tebow scrambled for 25 yards, then Harvin followed with a 20-yard run. Tim Tebow ran a few more times and scored from 16 yards out to make it 59-31 with 2:50 remaining.
Tim Tebow finished 18-of-25 passing for 236 yards. He also ran 17 times for 93 yards.
Although Tim Tebow made it look easy at times, Troy made it interesting, too.
Andre Caldwell fumbled on the first play of the third quarter, and Leodis McKelvin returned it to the 4-yard line. The Trojans, who nearly upset Florida State last year and played Arkansas tough last week, settled for a field goal.
The Gators punted on the next drive, and Haugabook capped a 68-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. Freshman Chris Rainey fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Troy had good field position again.
The drive ended when Greg Whibbs missed a 45-yard field goal. But the Gators punted the ball right back after Tim Tebow was sacked on third down.
Haugabook hooked up with Silvoy for an 11-yard score, cutting the lead to 49-24 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.
The Gators looked like they would snap out of the funk when they picked up a first down on the next drive. But Tim Tebow was sacked again, and Troy got the ball back with all the momentum.
Florida looked like it had regrouped following Joey Ijjas' first field goal of the season. But Haugabook found Silvoy for a 26-yard score with 7 minutes to go.
Tim Tebow then took over.
The second half should provided plenty of apprehension for Florida as it heads into conference play against the 24th-ranked Volunteers.
The Gators had no such worries early.
Kestahn Moore had two short TD runs in the first half, and Tim Tebow connected with Harvin, Cornelius Ingram and Jarred Fayson for scores.
Brandon James, who returned from a one-game suspension, had a 59-yard kickoff return and a 32-yard punt return that helped set up early touchdowns. Caldwell, lining up at quarterback, had an 18-yard TD run.
Ingram caught seven passes for a career-high 105 yards. Louis Murphy had six receptions for 78 yards.
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