Scores

Final

(1) Florida 24

(10-0, 8-0 SEC)

South Carolina 14

(6-5, 3-5 SEC)

Coverage: CBS

3:30 PM ET, November 14, 2009

Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

1 2 3 4 T
#1FLA 10 7 0 724
SC 7 7 0 014

Top Performers

Passing: T. Tebow (FLA) - 199 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: B. Maddox (SC) - 17 CAR, 82 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. Cooper (FLA) - 3 REC, 112 YDS, 1 TD

Top-ranked Florida records first perfect league season since '96

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- As he watched South Carolina inch closer to a go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter, Florida coach Urban Meyer knew it was time for one of his Gators to make a play.

Defensive end Justin Trattou was more than ready.

Trattou made a game-changing interception and No. 1 Florida finished a perfect regular season in the Southeastern Conference with a 24-14 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

Tim Tebow tied the SEC career touchdown mark and Florida (10-0, 8-0) went undefeated in the league for the first time since Steve Spurrier's 1996 national champions.

Fast Facts

• Tim Tebow rushed for his 53rd career touchdown and passed for another, helping Florida win its 20th consecutive game.

• Gators running back Emmanuel Moody recorded his first touchdown run of the season.

• The Florida defense held South Carolina to 247 yards, forcing three turnovers in the process.

• The Gators improved to 10-0 on the season and finished SEC play 8-0.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

"Every week, someone has to step up. It's usually someone different every week," said Trattou, a junior playing with a painful torn left biceps.

Gamecock quarterback Stephen Garcia had closed the third quarter when he cut back around two pursuers to pick up a first down on fourth-and-2. South Carolina (6-5, 3-5) eventually got to the Gators 22, trailing 17-14 and ready to strike.

But Garcia's pass was tipped and wound up in Trattou's hand. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder ran along the right sidelines as a wall of Florida defenders lined up to block during a 53-yard return.

"He looked kind of athletic there," Tebow joked of Trattou.

Four plays later, Tebow made South Carolina pay with a 1-yard TD run that matched LSU great Kevin Faulk for most in the SEC at 53.

Trattou plays and practices with an injury most people would spend weeks rehabbing. He told Meyer after it happened in October that unless he needed surgery, he'd continue playing.

"If it's a matter of dealing with a little pain here and there, it's not going to keep me out," Trattou said.

The Gators remained on track for a third national title in four years. They again called on their SEC-leading defense to save things against former coach Spurrier, who looked as if he'd figured out a few cracks in Florida's front line.

By the end, Spurrier could only throw off his headset in frustration at another close call against his old school.

Ahead 24-14 after Tebow's score, Florida's defense got after the Gamecocks. The Gators sacked Garcia four times in the fourth quarter. Joe Haden's interception with two minutes left sealed Florida's 20th straight victory -- and fourth in a row over its former head ball coach.

"That turnover took a lot of steam" out of the Gamecocks, Spurrier said. "Give Florida credit. They played pretty well. I don't know if by their standards they thought they played super."

Meyer was simply happy to leave with a victory.

"We did not play perfect. I'm not sure we've played perfect in a while," he said. "But that's 20 in a row and I'm awful proud of the guys in there."

Florida ends with two nonconference games against Florida International and Florida State, then faces Alabama in the SEC championship game in three weeks. A win there and the Gators again match Spurrier's 1996 team.

Three years ago, defensive lineman Jarvis Moss blocked a field goal that saved Florida's 17-16 win over South Carolina and, eventually, brought a national championship.

Tebow ended 14 of 25 for 199 yards passing, including a 68-yard touchdown throw to Riley Cooper.

Florida's defense held South Carolina to 247 yards, the Gamecocks fewest in four games.

Tebow had led blowouts of Spurrier's Gamecocks the past two years. In 2007, Tebow wrapped up the Heisman Trophy when he accounted for 424 yards and seven touchdowns in the 51-31 victory in the Gators' last visit to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Then last season, Florida handed Spurrier the most-lopsided loss of his stellar career, 56-6.

Things looked like they might be as easy for the Gators this time, too, as they scored on their first three series. After Tebow's touchdown pass to Cooper, Caleb Sturgis had a 32-yard field goal and Emmanuel Moody broke two tackles during his 17-yard scoring run.

That's usually more than enough for Florida's D, second in the country at just more than 10 points allowed a game.

But Spurrier, back in full command of the offense, found a way to make Florida sweat.

He called a fake punt on South Carolina's opening series, Spencer Lanning throwing a perfect pass to wide open D.J. Swearinger. An illegal shift penalty, though, negated the first down.

The Gamecocks tied it at 7-all with a 14-play, 84-yard drive finished by Brian Maddox's 1-yard TD run. It was the junior's first score in eight games.

Garcia went 5 of 5 on South Carolina's other first-half scoring drive, hitting Weslye Saunders with a 9-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone.

Garcia gave a military salute to the South Carolina sidelines after that score, keeping with the theme of the day.

The Gamecocks wore black camouflage jerseys with values such as "Courage," "Integrity," and "Service" on the back instead of names to honor veterans hurt defending the United States. The effort was sponsored by The Wounded Warrior Project and Under Armour.

Garcia had seemingly put himself in line as one of South Carolina's alltime heroes with his late run. Two plays later, though, came Trattou's interception.

"That's not what we were trying to do," Spurrier said. "After that we went backwards every time we touched it."

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Team Stat Comparison

 
FLA
SC
1st Downs1718
Total Yards339247
Passing199186
Rushing14061
Penalties3-205-25
3rd Down Conversions5-143-12
4th Down Conversions0-11-1
Turnovers03
Possession28:3931:21

Passing Leaders

FloridaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Tebow14/251998.010
South CarolinaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Garcia17/321865.812

Rushing Leaders

FloridaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Rainey10464.607
Moody33511.7117
South CarolinaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Maddox17824.8114
DiMarco133.003

Receiving Leaders

FloridaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Cooper311237.3168
Hernandez33010.0012
South CarolinaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Saunders56212.4115
Jeffery6579.5024

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERFLASC
TD12:04Riley Cooper 68 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Caleb Sturgis Kick) 70
TD05:51Brian Maddox 1 Yd Run (Spencer Lanning Kick) 77
FG01:18Caleb Sturgis 32 Yd 107
SECOND QUARTERFLASC
TD10:28Emmanuel Moody 17 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick) 177
TD02:10Weslye Saunders 9 Yd Pass From Stephen Garcia (Spencer Lanning Kick) 1714
FOURTH QUARTERFLASC
TD13:25Tim Tebow 1 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick) 2414