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Tebow, Cooper help Florida rout I-AA Western Carolina

Nov 18, 2006 - 7:59 PM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) - After surviving a brutal Southeastern Conference schedule with just one loss, Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper and Florida had no problems whatsoever against a Division I-AA opponent.

Backup quarterback Tebow ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more and Cooper had three TD receptions as the third-ranked Gators rolled to a 62-0 rout of Western Carolina.

DeShawn Wynn ran for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns for the Gators (10-1), who visit reeling rival Florida State next week before playing Arkansas in the SEC title game in Atlanta on December 2.

"All the seniors were on the sideline rooting the freshmen on," said senior quarterback Chris Leak, who completed 9-of-12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. "It was fun to get a win like that in my last game at 'The Swamp.'"

A true freshman, Tebow completed 10-of-12 passes for 200 yards for Florida, which was coming off a 17-16 win over South Carolina here in which the Gators held on only after Javaris Moss blocked a 48-yard field-goal try on the final play of the game.

Moss was suspended Saturday but the Gators did not need him, especially after Wynn's great start. The redshirt sophomore opened the scoring less than five minutes into the contest with a 26-yard run in which he hurdled a defender, then made it 14-0 with a seven-yard run with 2:50 to play in the period.

"Give Florida credit," Western Carolina coach Kent Briggs said. "They are a fantastic team, who I believe really could win the national championship."

The Gators broke open the contest in the second quarter on an eight-yard scoring strike from Leak to Cooper, a 20-yard run by Tebow and a 77-yard punt return by freshman Brandon James.

"We've got (James) for three more years," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "He's a really good player and a very good kid."

Andy Horn went just 5-of-12 for 35 yards for Western Carolina (2-9), which began its season with back-to-back victories but has not won since. The Catamounts mustered just 59 total yards and surrendered 582.

"It was great," Western Carolina running back Mike Malone said. "We get one or two opportunities a year to go out there and show what we're capable of doing and what we can do. I think we fought hard today."

The Gators, who were meeting the Catamounts for the first time, improved to 23-2 all-time against Southern Conference opponents.

Cornelius Ingram caught four balls for 59 yards and Cooper gained 82 yards on his three TD catches for Florida, which converted 7-of-9 third downs and both of its fourth-down opportunities.

"Everyone keeps asking me (what it's like to score here), but I can't explain it," Cooper said. "It's an incredible feeling with everyone cheering you in 'The Swamp.'"

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