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September 9, 2006

Florida pounds UCF in a complete performance

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -Florida coach Urban Meyer should have fewer complaints after his team's performance against Central Florida.

Chris Leak threw for a career-high 352 yards and four scores, freshman Percy Harvin provided more dazzling moments and the seventh-ranked Gators routed UCF 42-0 Saturday night.

Although the victory came against the Golden Knights, whose defense allowed 322 yards against Division I-AA Villanova a week earlier, Meyer should feel much better about his Gators (2-0) as they prepare for a Southeastern Conference showdown at No. 11 Tennessee.

Following a 34-7 victory against Southern Mississippi last week, Meyer lamented college football's new clock rules, which negated a few possessions, about a dozen plays and maybe some points in the opener. He also ripped Florida's running game, lack of defensive pressure and some special teams aspects.

All those worries were washed away Saturday.

The Gators, who led Southern Miss 14-7 late in the third quarter, scored touchdowns on five of their first seven possessions and led 34-0 at halftime. The defense, which gave up nearly 300 yards in the opener, constantly harassed quarterback Steven Moffett and forced the Golden Knights (1-1) into countless punts.

Leak, meanwhile, had all the time he needed to find open receivers.

He completed a short pass to Harvin across the middle on Florida's fifth play of the game. The receiver turned up the sideline, got a few key blocks and outran everyone else for a 58-yard score. Harvin finished with four receptions for 99 yards. He had 91 total yards on seven touches in the opener.

Leak also threw a 10-yard TD pass to Dallas Baker and a 25-yarder to Andre Caldwell with 4 seconds to play in the first half. Leak was 13-of-19 for 265 yards in the half.

He looked like he would pick up where he left off in the third quarter, but his pass to Cornelius Ingram near the goal line was tipped and then intercepted. It was Leak's second interception of the season - both coming after errors by receivers.

Harvin stopped short on a route last week, causing an interception, and had a few more miscues in his second game. He fumbled after a 21-yard reception on Florida's second possession and dropped an easy catch on the third drive. They were the only possessions Florida failed to score on in the first half.

Leak put the Gators up 42-0 in the third with an 8-yard TD pass to Caldwell. He finished 19-of-29. His previous career high was 322 yards against Arkansas in 2004.

Highly touted freshman Tim Tebow proved again to be one of Florida's best runners. He played a series in the second quarter, running three times for 38 yards, and drove the offense into scoring range. Kestahn Moore's 28-yard scamper made it 20-0.

Tebow returned and played the entire fourth quarter, but had two turnovers - a fumble and an interception.

The Golden Knights, who put together a dramatic turnaround under coach George O'Leary last season, struggled to move the ball most the night.

Moffett was 14-of-32 for 100 yards before being replaced midway through the fourth quarter. Kevin Smith, named freshman of the year in Conference USA last year, ran nine times for 22 yards.

The loss dropped UCF to 0-16 against ranked teams and 1-10 against SEC teams.

For more coverage of the Florida Gators, check out GatorBait.com.



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