GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Houston Nutt needed just five games to get a signature win at Miss issippi. Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and led the Rebels to a stunning 31-30 victory at No. 4 Florida on Saturday. Snead, the former Florida recruit who backed out of his commitment when he learned the Gators were going after Tim Tebow, outplayed last year's Heisman Trophy winner. And he did it in The Swamp, where Florida (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) had won 21 of its last 22 games. The victory came in Snead's fifth career start and gave Nutt a huge win in his first season with Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1). Snead was 9-of-20 passing for 185 yards, not great numbers, but he made plays when the Rebels needed them. His biggest was an 86-yard touchdown pass to Shay Hodge that put the Rebels ahead 31-24 with 5:26 to play.
Tebow brought the Gators back, driving them 78 yards in about 2 minutes, but the game-tying extra point was blocked by defensive lineman Kentrell Lockett. Florida coach Urban Meyer argued that Lockett illegally jumped over the offensive line, but the officials did not agree. Florida forced a punt and had one more chance, but Tebow was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Ole Miss 32-yard line. Snead took a couple of knees from there, running out the clock and setting off a raucous celebration in and around the small section of Ole Miss who made the trip. Tebow was 24-of-38 passing for 319 yards and a touchdown. He ran 15 times for 7 yards and two scores, a far cry from the 166 yards he had in Oxford last season. He also misfired on several long passes and underthrew one in the end zone. And on his lone TD toss to Percy Harvin, it came on a deflected pass that Kendrick Lewis nearly intercepted.
Florida's biggest problem was three turnovers and a miserable third quarter that might go down as the worst 15 minutes in the Meyer era. Leading 17-7, Harvin fumbled on the second play of the third. Ole Miss turned it into a field goal. Tebow fumbled on the next play, and Snead found Cordera Eason on a perfectly called screen pass for an 18-yard touchdown. Eason leapt over Markihe Anderson at the 5 and rolled into the end zone to tie the game. It got worse for the Gators, too. Tebow, under heavy pressure all day long, just couldn't find a rhythm. Ole Miss did. Dexter McCluster, who lined up countless times in the "Wild Hog" formation made famous by Darren McFadden under Nutt at Arkansas, busted through the line and rambled 40 yards for a touchdown that made it 24-17. The Gators regrouped in the fourth - Tebow even tied it with a short run early in the quarter - but the defensive collapse on the long pass play and the blocked extra point turned out to be the difference. Harvin ran 10 times for 82 yards and a touchdown, and had 13 receptions for 186 yards and a score. But he also fumbled three times, losing one of them. Tight end Aaron Hernandez also fumbled for Florida, which lost an SEC home opener for just the second time in 20 years.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)