for this game

Tebow, Florida outgun Woodson, Kentucky in SEC shootout

Oct 21, 2007 - 2:30 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Tim Tebow and Florida proved that they deserved to be favored over Andre' Woodson and Kentucky.

Tebow delivered another brilliant performance Saturday, passing for a career-high four touchdowns to lead the 14th-ranked Gators to a 45-37 Southeastern Conference triumph over eighth-ranked Kentucky.

The game came seven days after the Wildcats ousted then-No. 1 Louisiana State in a triple-overtime thriller.

Coming off the landmark victory, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks questioned why his team was a seven-point underdog to the defending champion Gators, who entered with a lower ranking and an inferior record in the SEC East Division.

"They were probably fresher than we were," Brooks said, referring to Florida's bye last week. "You play as the schedule falls. ... You can't control who you are playing or what the situation is when they come along, so you got to rise up to the occasion."

But Tebow, a true sophomore, picked apart the Wildcats to lead Florida (5-2, 3-2 SEC East) to its 21st consecutive win in this series. The southpaw completed 18-of-26 passes for 256 yards without an interception.

"(Tebow) is as competitive a human being as I've ever been around," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "He's a great leader. He gives you a weapon on offense. Someone said, 'Can he throw?' Yeah sure, he can throw very well."

"Kentucky has a great offense and with a quarterback like Woodson, you have to answer," Tebow said. "We were still calm after their opening-drive touchdown. I just knew that with our offense we could go out there and finish tonight."

With the win, the Gators snapped a two-game skid and climbed into a three-way tie with Georgia and South Carolina atop the SEC East.

Reeling from consecutive last-minute losses to Auburn and LSU, Florida still will be hard-pressed to win the division with road contests against the Bulldogs and Gamecocks looming.

But Meyer and Tebow simply want to focus on next week's game against the 21st-ranked Bulldogs.

"It's wide open, it was wide open last week," Meyer said. "Who beat who - just take care of your business. We've got a tough game and great rivalry next week."

"It feels good, real good, to be in control," Tebow added. "We have to go out there and play hard to get to (the SEC title game). Today was a great day for Florida."

Despite battling an injured right shoulder throughout the second half, Tebow also rushed for 78 yards and a TD on 20 carries.

"(Tebow) tucks the ball like a running back," Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson said. "He's 6-3, 235 pounds, which is bigger than most running backs. He is just able to make plays. He runs really hard and can bounce off some tackles."

Tebow's terrific outing overshadowed another outstanding effort from Woodson, who finished 35-of-50 for season highs of 415 yards and five TDs.

But Woodson, the hero in last Saturday's win over LSU, did not take any solace in his personal accomplishments.

"We are pretty upset about the game, but I still think we did a good job laying it all out on the line," he said. "All we can do is bounce back and get ready for Mississippi State. We played a great team tonight, and now we need to refocus."

Woodson could not help Kentucky's defense, which failed to come up with a much-needed stop in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats (6-2, 2-2 East) clawed within 38-31 on Woodson's fourth TD of the game - a seven-yard strike to Dicky Lyons with 3:35 remaining.

But Tebow marched the Gators back down the field on the following possession, hitting Percy Harvin for a 40-yard completion and plowing in for a back-breaking two-yard TD run on the next play.

"We have worked on that a lot in practice," Tebow said of his long pass to Harvin. "When you have great receivers, you can put that out there for them to make a play. It really isn't that hard for me to put the deep ball out."

"They (Florida) got behind us on some pass plays, and we can't let that happen," Kentucky linebacker Braxton Kelley said. "We bit on a couple play actions and couldn't recover after the ball was thrown."

Woodson orchestrated a last-minute scoring drive capped by his six-yard TD pass to Keenan Burton as time expired. But it was not enough for Kentucky, which has not beaten Florida since 1986.

"We usually do a great job of a getting in the position to win the game in the second half," Woodson said. "We were able to move the ball against Florida's defensive schemes. Unfortunately it was too late to get points on the board."

Lyons finished with eight catches for 124 yards and three TDs while fellow wide receiver Steve Johnson also hauled in eight receptions for 128 yards. Derrick Locke added 76 rushing yards for Kentucky, which amassed 512 yards of total offense.

"Florida is a very good team," Brooks said. "We competed tonight but we couldn't always execute as well as we needed. When we got behind, it kind of negated us from running the ball as much as we'd like."