Gators start title defense by thumping Charleston Southern
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Jeff Demps ran for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns as top-ranked Florida began defense of its national championship with a 62-3 demolition of FCS foe Charleston Southern.
Senior quarterback Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, played the first half and completed 10-of-15 passes for 188 yards and a score.
"The team played well, everyone played hard and we executed pretty well," said Tebow. "It wasn't perfect and we need to improve, but we're always going to be looking to improve. Guys stepped up and made plays so it was a good day."
Defending its third national title in school history, Florida extended its SEC-best opening-day winning streak to 21 games.
Brandon James returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown for the Gators (1-0), who host Troy next Saturday before starting SEC play at home vs. Tennessee on September 19.
A.J. Toscano connected on 18-of-31 passes for 157 yards with an interception for Charleston Southern (0-1), which plays at Wofford next Saturday.
"I am very pleased with the performance of our team tonight," said Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills. "We played an outstanding team, one of the better teams in the country, if not the best team in the country. They will be argued upon by the end of the season as one of the best teams of the decade, maybe even more than that."
Demps scored on an eight-yard run up the middle less than four minutes into the contest. Tebow was on target early, hitting Riley Cooper for a 68 yard gain to set up Demps' touchdown.
It became 14-0 when Chris Rainey broke free for a 76-yard rumble to the end zone later in the quarter.
Demps ran 41 yards on the final play of the first quarter to help set up Tebow's one-yard TD rush in the opening minute of the second.
A 23-yard run by Demps made it 28-0, and Tebow connected with Aaron Hernandez from 28 yards out for a 35-0 cushion with 7:55 remaining in the half. It marked the 29th straight game Tebow has passed for a touchdown, the longest streak in the nation.
The Buccaneers got a 38-yard field goal from John Paglia on the next possession, but James, led by a convoy of blockers, returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the end zone, providing the 42-3 margin at the half.
With the game in control, Gators coach Urban Meyer lifted Tebow in the second half, and John Brantley threw a seven-yard TD pass to Justin Williams with just 2:21 elapsed in the third.
Brantley then found Cade Holliday with a nine-yard scoring toss in the final minute of the third and Mike Gillislee scored on a seven-yard run in the fourth.
Brantley went 8-of-12 for 67 yards through the air...Emmanuel Moody rushed nine times for 86 yards for the Gators...Cooper had five catches for 105 yards.
09/06 02:32:02 ET