Tennessee Vols celebrate big win against Florida Gators
Tennessee defeated their rivals Florida Gators, 38-33.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee celebrated a historic win against the University of Florida on Saturday night. The Vols defeated the Gators, 38-33.
Tennessee remains undefeated and is bound to move up in rank after the win. A top-20 showdown with SEC East rival Florida waited the 11th-ranked Vols in front of a sold-out Neyland Stadium and national TV audience on CBS and WVLT.
Saturday’s game marked the 6th time for CheckerNeyland, which showcases Tennessee’s iconic checkerboard pattern throughout the stadium. The contest also marked the second consecutive sellout at Neyland Stadium, a first since the 2016 Vols’ victory against Florida.
Tennessee ended a five-game skid to Florida. The Vols’ last win in the series came in 2016 when they scored 38 unanswered points to rally from a 21-3 halftime deficit and take down the Gators, 38-28, in Knoxville.
Gators won the toss and took the opening kickoff converting a 4th and 1 ant their own 30. A couple of Anthony-Richardson completions and runs later, Florida faced a 4th and 2 at the UT 20. Billy Napier decided to go for it again, but this time Tennessee was ready, forcing a one-yard loss as the Vols take over on downs.
Tough break for Tennessee! 39 rushing yards by Hendon Hooker got UT into UF territory, but on a pass to Princeton Fant, the tight end fumbles at the Gator 12. Costly early turnover for the Vols.
This SEC showdown remained scoreless with 4:35 remaining in the 1st quarter, following a missed 50-yard FG by Florida’s Adam Mihalek.
Vols got a big run from Hooker and a big catch and run from Ramel Keaton but settled for a 32-yard Chase McGrath FG. 3-0 Vols late in the 1st. Hooker had 43 yards rushing and 77 yards passing.
At the start of the second quarter, the Vols opened with a slim 3-0 lead. Interestingly, both teams entered with 128 yards of total offense.
The sun came out but shining on the Gators who connect on a 44-yard TD pass from Anthony Richardson to TE Keon Zipperer. The play aided by poor Tennessee tackling makes it 7-3 Gators with 12:41 to go in the 1st half.
TOUCHDOWN! The Vols answered quickly. Hooker with a 70-yard bomb to Bru McCoy, and two plays later it was #5 in for 6! Vols regain the lead at 10-7. UT had 203 total yards under its belt: 147 passing and 56 on the ground.
The next drive was not what the Vols wanted to see. UF QB Anthony Richardson had himself a day. One passing and one rushing TD came from 7 yards out. He accounted for 248 yards of offense for the Gators who lead 14-10 midway through the 2nd quarter.
On 4th and 8 at the UF 33, the Vols go for it, but Hooker was sacked and fumbled. The ball went back over to the Gators.
Florida was forced to punt but downs the ball inside the Tennessee one-yard line. The Vols would drive and get an incredible catch on a deep ball to Ramel Keaton. That would lead to six points as Hendon Hooker found Bru McCoy in the back of the end zone, a terrific pass and catch from one yard out to cap a 99-yard drive, giving Tennessee a 17-14 lead at halftime of their SEC opener.
Vols opened the second half with the ball starting at their own 27-yard line. The opening play led to a huge 37-yard run from Jabari Small into Gator territory.
The Vols pushed into the endzone, but the touchdown was reversed for a holding call on the play against #54 Gerald Mincey. Tennessee quickly recovered and scored a touchdown, 24-14 vols with 12 minutes left.
Florida received the ball and ran down the field, getting three first downs and moving into Tennessee territory. After a dog pile over the ball, UF Richardson still managed a touchdown, bringing the score to 21-24 Vols.
At the start of the next drive, Hooker was buried in the pocket and threatened with a sack, but he managed to get away with a huge 44-yard gain. A big debate between both teams’ coaches and the referees over Small’s plunge into the endzone didn’t stop Tennessee from turning it around for another score, 31-21 Vols.
UF picked up the ball at their own 4. Vols made big stops until it’s 3rd and 9, but Florida made it through to a first down.
The start of the fourth quarter began with a 9-yard run. Florida control doesn’t last long as Richardson fumbled and Jeremy Banks recovered at UT’s 13-yard line.
Jaylen Wright ran it to the endzone from five yards out. The score was 38-21 with 7:55 minutes left in the game.
#95 Da’Jon Terry stopped any Gators’ advance by sacking Richardson on the first play of the drive. Florida managed a touchdown. After Florida scored a touchdown, Napier went for a two-point conversion, but it failed, leaving the score 38-27.
Both teams were out of timeouts ahead of fourth-and-three at the 30-yard line. There was less than a minute left in the game as Tennessee fought to maintain its 11-point lead.
With 17 seconds left in the game, Florida took the ball into the endzone. Napier again tried for a two-point conversion but again failed. 38-33 Vols.
Florida regained the ball at its own 47-yard line. With 17 seconds left, Gators had around 3 plays to get a touchdown.
UF attempted a long throw, but the Volunteers intercepted it. Vols claimed the victory, 38-33.
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