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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Florida routs Southern Miss.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 2, 2006
GAINESVILLE -- Chris Leak threw three touchdown passes, highly touted freshman Tim Tebow ran for a score and No. 7 Florida overcame a sluggish start to beat Southern Mississippi 34-7 Saturday night.
The Gators were hoping to enjoy an offensive surge in coach Urban Meyer's second season -- the kind he witnessed at Bowling Green and Utah. Instead, Florida's offense looked much like it did last season -- playing with an inconsistent running game, a shaky offensive line and relying on Leak and the defense to win games.
Nonetheless, it worked again.
Leak completed 21 of 30 passes for 248 yards. His third pass of the game was intercepted, and Southern Miss turned it into points when Jeremy Young connected with Damion Carter three plays later.
But Leak bounced back in a big way. He evened the game on the final play of the first quarter, rolling left and finding Dallas Baker wide open in the end zone for a 21-yard score.
Baker finished with nine catches for 123 yards. Another receiver, freshman Percy Harvin, had a memorable debut. He ran four times for a team-high 58 yards and had three receptions for 33 yards. Harvin gained 23 yards on an end around in the second quarter, setting up DeShawn Wynn's 3-yard touchdown run.
Harvin later used a sick move to turn what should have been lost yardage into a 9-yard gain. Leak hooked up with Kestahn Moore on the following play for a 16-yard touchdown that put the Gators ahead 34-7 in the fourth.
Leak also had a 29-yard TD pass to Jemalle Cornelius late in the third quarter. Tebow made an impact in his debut, too. He entered the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. After a 10-yard run by Moore, Tebow faked a handoff and kept the ball as he ran around the left end. He used a stiff-arm to elude LeVance Richmond, then dived across the goal line for a 1-yard score.
The game, though, felt like a letdown following the pregame activities.
The 1996 national championship team celebrated its 10-year reunion, and coach Steve Spurrier returned to Florida Field for the first time since leaving his alma mater following the 2001 season.
Spurrier received a rousing ovation -- probably the loudest of the night.
But Florida's offense was getting booed a short time later.
Leak was sacked twice times and hurried even more often. Wynn carried seven times for 45 yards before leaving the field in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury.
The defense gave up nearly 300 yards. But at least the unit had an excuse. It played without starting defensive tackles Steven Harris and Marcus Thomas. Both were benched for the opener.
Still, the offense was expected to do more.
Meyer's 2002 Bowling Green team averaged 10 more points and 65 more yards per game than the previous year. He had an even bigger jump at Utah, where his 2004 Utes team averaged 16 more points and 125 more yards per game than the previous year.
It still might happen at Florida. Just not in the opener.
Young finished 13-of-27 for 129 yards and three interceptions for Southern Miss. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by Stephen Reaves, the son of former Florida All-American quarterback John Reaves