September 30, 2006

Alabama falls to Florida, 28-13

The Crimson Tide piled up yards on offense but couldn't match Urban Meyer's Florida Gators when it came to turning those yards into points. After taking an early lead in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the Tide was unable to keep up with the No. 5 Gators who improved to 6-0 with a 28-13 win over Alabama.

"It's another tough loss to swallow," head coach Mike Shula said. "I thought our guys fought hard and we practiced hard all week. You hate to see it not pay off."

Things got rolling early for the Tide when linebacker Prince Hall scooped up a fumbled snap by Chris Leak and returned it 50-yards for a touchdown to put the Tide up 7-0 in the first quarter.

On the Tide's next offensive drive, Wilson and company executed a 40-yard, 7 plays drive to set up a 21-yard field goal by Jamie Christensen, his first of the season, to put the Tide up 10-7 with 12 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

It took the Gators until one minute and 45 seconds remaining in the first half to put its first points on the board, courtesy of a two-yard rush by Tim Tebow after a 95-yard, 12-play drive.

After entering the locker room with a 10-7 lead over the Gators, the Tide defense continued to struggle against a re-energized Gator offense that quickly took control of the game.

The Gators took their first lead of the game with 2 minutes 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a Chris Leak 16-yard screen pass to Andre Caldwell giving the Gators a 14-10 lead over the Tide.

The Tide then pulled the Gators lead to one point with a 26-yard field goal from Jamie Christensen at the 12:47 mark in the fourth quarter.

A costly interception by John Parker Wilson on the Tide's next possession handed the Gators the ball near midfield and led to a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Baker that pushed the Gator lead to 21-13.

In a last ditch effort with about five minutes remaining in the game, the Wilson threw his third interception which was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Reggie Nelson.

"We felt like we still had a chance to win there," Shula said. "Unfortunately we had a poorly executed play that led to an interception."

Wilson finished 21-of-40 with 240 passing yards and three interceptions.

"They threw a lot of different blitzes and twists at us. The line did a pretty good job of picking most of it up. We were able to move the ball well and got it into the red zone. I just didn't make the plays I needed to."

One bright spot was the improved rushing game that saw Kenneth Darby carry 14 times for 76 yards. Darby gained 105 all-purpose yards during the game pushing him past the 3,000 yard mark in career all-purpose yards.

"I thought we opened things up much better for Ken and we also got some good looks for the run," Shula said.


* Shula said fullback Le'Ron McClain was not seriously injured when he took a helmet to the shin on a late fourth quarter drive.

* The win marks only the second win for the Gators over the Tide in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Tide leads in the Gators' home stadium all-time 8-2.

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