Byrum wins it for Auburn
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Auburn did it again.
For the second straight year, the Tigers blemished Florida's otherwise squeaky clean record.
Wes Byrum's 43-yard field goal as time expired sealed a 20-17 win as Auburn staved off a gritty Gators comeback at The Swamp on Saturday night.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Byrum said. "That's a dream situation to be in with three seconds left."
The loss snapped an 18-game home winning streak for Florida, and provided Coach Urban Meyer's first home loss as Florida's coach.
"The second half was very positive except for the ending," Meyer said. "Offensively we're supposed to be pretty good. We couldn't get those first downs, couldn't get our defense off the field."
Byrum, a freshman, actually made the kick twice.
After splitting the uprights on his first attempt, Auburn's players ran onto the field to celebrate the apparent victory.
Too bad Florida had called a timeout.
So he calmly kicked it again, this time making it by a slimmer margin, and ran around the field doing a Gator chomp.
"It's hard to even put into words," Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. "We had opportunities to win that game."
Auburn (3-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) dragged Florida into an upset-filled Saturday, as the Gators may have fallen into the look-ahead trap.
A possible No. 2 vs. No. 3 showdown loomed with LSU this week -- if the Gators would have won.
The No. 4 Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) joined No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 7 Texas and No. 10 Rutgers in littering the top ten with losses.
The game-winning kick came after the two teams exchanged fruitless drives with the game tied at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter.
Auburn got it back with less than four minutes remaining and drove 34 yards to set up Byrum's kick.
Auburn running back Ben Tate took five carries in a row, gaining 15 yards and two key first downs to run out the final 2 minutes.
Florida's failed comeback gained steam slowly throughout the second half.
The Gators embarked on an 88-yard march early in the fourth quarter to tie it up.
Quarterback Tim Tebow (20-of-27 for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception and 19 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown) capped it with his signature sneak from two yards out.
With 7:35 left, Florida had erased a deficit it had faced for most of the game, a lead that grew to 14 points in the third quarter.
The game turned around late in the third quarter, when Florida scored off a turnover to cut the lead to 17-10.
Freshman free safety Major Wright, making his first start, forced a fumble by Tate in the open field.
Florida took over and drove for a touchdown as Tebow connected with Cornelius Ingram on a 6-yard post route.
Florida sniffed momentum for the first time at the beginning of the second half.
The defense finally forced a three-and-out, and the offense finally scored.
Joey Ijjas kicked a 24-yard field goal to put the Gators on the board and cut the deficit to 14-3.
Auburn dominated in all three facets of the game to take a 14-0 lead into the break.
Florida was held scoreless in the first two quarters for the first time since 1992.
Still, the score could have been more lopsided.
Florida had as many total offensive yards, 14, as it did penalty yards in the first quarter.
Auburn, who registered 21 plays for 113 yards in the first quarter, played keep away with the football as the Gators only managed a pair of three-and-outs in the opening 15 minutes.
The Tigers ran 7:32 off the clock with a 14-play, 86-yard scoring drive on their first possession.
Backup quarterback Kodi Burns did his best Tebow impression, powering in from six yards out on a designed sneak in relief of Cox.
The second quarter brought more of the same as Auburn went 80 yards on 10 plays culminating in a 3-yard touchdown run by Tate.
Officials reviewed Tate's score and replays showed Tate's knee hit the ground before he reached his arm past the goal line.
The upheld touchdown call, like so many things Saturday night, went Auburn's way.
"We've got to get better starting tomorrow," Tebow said, "and get back to the drawing board."
Player of the Game: Auburn kicker Wes Byrum. A freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Byrum came back to his home state with the nerves of a senior. He made both of his field goals, including the game-winner twice as Florida called a timeout while he nailed his first attempt.
Play of the Game: Wes Byrum's 43-yard field goal as time expired. Auburn drove 34 yards to set up Byrum's try. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Byrum ran around and did the Gator chomp in celebration.
Up next: Florida travels to No. 2 LSU while Auburn hosts Vanderbilt.