No. 5 Florida 23, No. 9 LSU 10

Sunday, October 8th 2006, 1:01 pm
By: News On 6

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida quarterback Tim Tebow showed he can do a lot more than just run.

Tebow threw two touchdown passes, including one on a play that could have came from basketball coach Billy Donovan's playbook, and ran for a score to give the fifth-ranked Gators a 23-10 win against No. 9 LSU on Saturday.

Florida improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1996 _ the school's lone national championship season _ and extended its home winning streak to 13 games. The Gators (4-0 Southeastern Conference) also beat the Tigers for the first time in three years and won their 18th straight homecoming game.

Tebow made it look relatively easy.

The highly touted freshman backup ran nine times for 35 yards, including a 1-yard plunge on fourth down that evened the score at 7 in the first quarter.

But he unveiled another side of his game. Although he threw nine passes in mop-up duty against Central Florida, Tebow had rarely used his left arm since _ aside from an occasional stiff arm.

That changed against the Tigers (4-2, 1-2).

Facing a second-and-goal play with less than a minute remaining in the first half, Tebow took the snap and ran toward the line of scrimmage. He pulled up _ much like a jump-shooter would _ double clutched to allow tight end Tate Casey to get open, then kind of flipped the ball over several defenders.

Casey caught the pass as he fell backward.

It capped a 72-yard scoring drive that followed the first of three interceptions thrown by JaMarcus Russell. Florida starting quarterback Chris Leak did most of the work on the drive, finding Andre Caldwell over the middle for a 17-yard gain on third down and later connecting with a wide open Jemalle Cornelius for 26 yards.

Leak was 17-of-26 for 155 yards. Tebow was 2-for-2 for 36 yards. There is no quarterback controversy, though. It's more like a quarterback coalition.

Tebow made the highlight reel, though.

His passing performance continued after halftime.

The Gators got a safety on the second-half kickoff. Early Doucet fumbled at the 3-yard line, gathered the loose ball briefly, but lost it again after he got leveled by Riley Cooper. The ball trickled into the end zone, and LSU teammate Trindon Holliday recovered for the safety.

Five plays later, Tebow was at it again. He took a step toward the line of scrimmage to fake a run, pulled up and found Louis Murphy wide open down the middle for a 35-yard score.

Florida essentially turned a tie game into a rout in a little more than three minutes and even shredded LSU's vaunted defense in the process. The Tigers entered the game with the nation's top-rated defense.

The Gators, playing without starting running back DeShawn Wynn, finished with nearly 300 total yards.

They got plenty of help from LSU, too.

The Tigers got a boost before the game when Arkansas upset No. 2 Auburn, opening the door for LSU to get back into the SEC West race. But LSU didn't take advantage of the opportunity.

Instead, the Tigers self-destructed.

Jessie Daniels fumbled a punt _ after a fair catch no less _ in the second quarter that led to Florida's tying touchdown. Russell fumbled a snap on the 2-yard line to end a 17-play drive. LSU had the fumbled kickoff to open the second half, then had a punt blocked on the next possession. The Tigers also missed a 41-yard field goal.

It could have been worse, too.

Florida's Ryan Smith dropped two interceptions, including an easy one that likely would have been a touchdown. But he redeemed himself with 4:20 to play, picking off Russell.

Tony Joined intercepted Russell's next pass after LSU blocked a punt with 3:17 remaining.

Russell finished 24-of-41 for 228 yards with a 2-yard TD pass to Jacob Hester on the team's opening drive.