Florida Rolls Past Kentucky
Sept. 26, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - With one scary hit on Tim Tebow, another Florida laugher turned into the Gators' worst fear.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was knocked out of No. 1 Florida's 41-7 victory against Kentucky after a hard shot to the head in the third quarter, and taken by ambulance to a hospital.
"I don't know, I think it's a concussion," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "I think he'll be all right.
"He took a pretty good shot."
The Gators were leading 31-7 and driving deep in Kentucky territory when Tebow was sacked by Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham. As he fell back with Wyndham on top of him, Tebow's head struck teammate Marcus Gilbert's leg, violently bending his neck forward.
Tebow lay motionless for several minutes while Commonwealth Stadium fell silent. He sat up with some help then slowly made his way off the field to a loud ovation. He was eventually carted off the field with concussion-like symptoms, vomiting several times.
He was taken to a hospital for tests and there was no further word on his condition.
Florida is off next week, then plays at LSU on Oct. 10.
"It was a clean hit," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "It looked like it knocked him out."
The win extended Florida's winning streak to 14 games, tops in the nation as the Gators (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) continued their mastery over the Wildcats (2-1, 0-1). Florida has won 23 straight in the series, the second longest active winning streak by one team over another in the country.
Yet a game that began with Tebow adding another chapter to his growing legend will be remembered more for the sudden way in which his night ended.
And now two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks have been knocked out of games in the first month of the season, with Tebow joining Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, who injured his shoulder in Week 1 and hasn't played since.
Tebow was one of several Gators who took a separate plane north because of respiratory and congestion issues, leading to speculation the Heisman Trophy winner wouldn't play.
If Tebow wasn't feeling well, it didn't show. He walked off the field following pregame warmups trading head slaps with teammate Brandon Spikes and nearly sprinted into the huddle on Florida's first possession.
He rumbled for 29 yards on the third play of the game, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and bolting through the secondary before getting shoved out of bounds.
The drive ended in a field goal, but he was simply getting started. Tebow put the Gators up 10-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run, silencing a crowd hoping Florida could be had if
The Wildcats couldn't get out of their own way. An illegal motion penalty on a punt forced them to re-kick, and the Gators took advantage when Chris Rainey blocked it and then fell on the ball in the end zone to make it 17-0 Florida.
The Gators had it back five plays later and Tebow led them on a 58-yard drive that included a pair of vintage Tebow runs. First he shook Kentucky cornerback Cartier Rice with some nifty footwork then spun forward for an extra yard to get the ball to the Kentucky 2.
On the next play Tebow turned to hand the ball off to running back Jeff Demps. One problem: Demps had run the other way. No biggie. Tebow tucked the ball, stepped through a tackle and walked into the end zone for his 48th career rushing touchdown, leaving him one shy of Herschel Walker's SEC record.
He later added a 44-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez on the last play of the first quarter, ending a 31-point deluge that left the Wildcats stunned.
Kentucky eventually found its composure, but by then it was too late.
"We got our fannies kicked all over the field in every phase," Brooks said. "I didn't have my team ready to play."
The Gators had struggled in last week's win over Tennessee, leading to whispers that Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had found the blueprint on stopping Florida's high-powered attack.
Those problems seemed long gone during a nearly flawless first half, and the Gators were going for more when Tebow went down.
Backup quarterback John Brantley came on in relief of Tebow and led Florida to a late touchdown, but by then the focus of the game had turned from the action on the field to Tebow's health.
Tebow finished with 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He added another 103 yards and a score through the air, numbers that will be quickly forgotten.