Nov. 25, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Chris Leak threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, Percy Harvin ran for a score and the fourth-ranked Gators beat Florida State 21-14 on Saturday to stay in the national title hunt.
Florida (11-1) won its third straight against Florida State and improved to 6-0 against its three main rivals – Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State – in Meyer’s two seasons.
The latest victory might not help much in the Bowl Championship Series standings. The Gators probably still need help to get to the title game.
But don’t expect Florida to complain.
The Gators won consecutive games in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986 and won three in a row against their in-state rivals for the first time since a six-game streak between 1981 and 1986.
Leak had a lot to do with the current streak.
He completed 21 of 34 passes and directed several long drives Saturday. The most impressive came when Florida needed it most. Leak was 7-of-8 for 81 yards on the game-winning drive early in the fourth quarter.
He called an audible on third down, recognizing a blitz and checking to a slant pass, and hooked up with Dallas Baker for a 25-yard gain. He connected with Baker again two plays later for a 25-yard score.
The Seminoles (6-6) had two chances to even the score, but they failed to convert on fourth down twice – once in Florida territory and once deep in their own end.
The Gators led 14-0 at halftime – Andre Caldwell caught a screen pass and turned it into a 66-yard score and Harvin had a 41-yard TD run from the quarterback position. Florida’s Chris Hetland missed two short field goals, and is now 3-for-12, prompting many to question why Meyer has stuck with him.
The misses almost proved costly, too.
But Leak rallied the Gators on the ensuing drive.
He improved to 3-1 against Florida State, completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,098 yards, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Gators also overcame the loss of Harvin and running back DeShawn Wynn.
Harvin, the team’s most dynamic player, was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field in the second quarter. He was hurt while trying to catch a pass across the middle. Harvin’s head appeared to hit linebacker Buster Davis’ knee. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before team doctors decided to cart him to the locker room.
Harvin was moving his arms and legs while on the ground. He held up his left thumb while being driven to the locker room.
Team officials said he was walking around at halftime and should be OK.
Wynn injured his left shoulder on the second play of the third quarter and did not return.
Florida State’s offense was woeful – again – for much of the game.
Weatherford started and played three series before getting benched in favor of Xavier Lee. Weatherford was 3-of-9 for 46 yards. Lee was even worse in the next three series, completing two of six passes for 8 yards and fumbling a snap.
Weatherford returned and was roundly booed, especially after getting sacked and fumbling out of bounds on his first play back. Nonetheless, coach Bobby Bowden stuck with Weatherford in the second half, a questionable decision after he threw interceptions on the first two series of the third quarter.
Weatherford was picked off for a third time following Surratt’s touchdown, but he rebounded with consecutive passes to Carr to start the fourth. The second one was a jump ball in the end zone that Carr caught over cornerback Reggie Lewis.
Weatherford finished 16-of-37 for 181 yards and couldn’t complete the comeback.