Florida shocks Ohio State for US college crown
Tue Jan 9, 2:52 AM ET
GLENDALE, Arizona - University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak outplayed his Heisman Trophy-winning counterpart Troy Smith of Ohio State to lead the Gators to the US college football championship.
Florida completed an unprecedented double, becoming the first university to hold both the coveted football and men's basketball titles simultaneously, having captured the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball crown in April.
Leak completed 25-of-36 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown in his final collegiate game for the Gators, who routed Ohio State University 41-14 and ended the previously unbeaten Buckeyes's bid for a perfect season.
Smith had a woeful final collegiate contest, going just 4-of-14 for 35 yards and an interception. He also gave up a fumble.
Ohio State had appeared poised to live up to their favorite's billing when Ted Ginn jnr returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
But he was injured on the play and didn't return, and Florida scored 21 unanswered points.
Leak tied the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Baker on Florida's first drive and pitched the ball to freshman speedster Percy Harvin for a go-ahead four-yard run with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
Smith was intercepted by Reggie Lewis at the Florida 29 with 2:49 to go in the opening quarter and Leak marched the Gators down the field before DeShawn Wynn scored on a two-yard run for a 21-7 lead on the first play of the second period.
With under four minutes to play in the half and his team trailing by 24-14, normally conservative Ohio State coach Jim Tressel elected to have the Buckeyes go for it on 4th-and-1 at their own 29 yard line.
Freshman tailback Chris Wells was tackled for no gain, and four plays later, Florida kicker Chris Hetland nailed his second field goal, a 40-yarder.
On the very next play, Smith was sacked by Jarvis Moss and lost the football.
Moss' fellow defensive end Derrick Harvey recovered and ran it nine yards to the Ohio State 5, leading to Tebow's one-yard TD pass to Andre Caldwell that opened a shocking 34-14 halftime lead for Florida.
Leak completed 16-of-24 passes for 150 yards in the first half, while Smith was just 2-of-8 for 24 yards.
"I have an understanding that not everything in life goes the way you want it to," Smith said. "Florida is a great team, extremely well coached. They did exactly what they needed to. "It was a lack of execution on my part as a quarterback. I didn't do a good enough job controlling what was going on. I have to take all the blame."