Sunday, November 19, 2017
Colleges

No. 18 Florida Gators extend winning streak against No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers with 37-20 victory

RECOMMENDED READING


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After last week's three-point victory at Texas A&M, coach Will Muschamp told Florida fans to get used to a slugfest, grind-it-out style of play. That, he said, is who the Gators are right now.

Maybe. Maybe not.

No. 18 Florida trailed for most of the first half and the majority of the third quarter before a two-possession breakout helped it to a 37-20 victory over No. 23 Tennessee in front of 104,255 at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.

The Gators now have consecutive come-from-behind wins for the first time since 1966.

"We have put a tremendous emphasis on winning the fourth quarter, winning the second half and wearing down our opponent," Muschamp said.

Florida (3-0, 2-0 SEC) has won eight consecutive games over Tennessee and is 3-0 for the eighth consecutive season. The victory was the first over a ranked opponent for Muschamp in his second season and Florida's first since the January 2010 Sugar Bowl over Cincinnati. It was the most points scored by the Gators in Knoxville since a 43-30 victory in 1984.

Last season, Florida opened with victories against Florida Atlantic, UAB and Tennessee. This season's first victory came against Bowling Green.

"This is a different 3-0," Muschamp said.

"The (opponents) are better teams."

This was supposed to be a statement game for two teams trying to get back to relevance. Florida made the ultimate statement — albeit late.

Leading 14-10, the Vols (2-1, 0-1) got a 1-yard touchdown run from A.J. Johnson with 7:33 left in the third but missed the extra point.

Florida's next possession ended with a botched fake punt on fourth and 9 at its 42 with 5:00 left. That seemed poised to doom the Gators.

But the defense held. And suddenly, Florida no longer was content to grind it out. Instead, it spread it out and in a span of 2:45 rose up.

Junior Trey Burton lined up in the wildcat and ran 80 yards in 12 seconds to tie the score at 20 with 3:15 left in the quarter. On the ensuing possession, junior safety Matt Elam intercepted Tyler Bray. Three plays later, sophomore Jeff Driskel connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed for a 27-20 lead with 1:19 left.

Just like that: four plays, 150 yards, two touchdowns and one lead.

"We have athletes all over the field," said Driskel, who was 14-of-20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. "We know if we keep giving them the ball, eventually they are going to break one."

The Gators punted on their next possession. But on third and 8 of their next one, Driskel connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass to senior Frankie Hammond. The drive covered 78 yards in three plays and 1:32.

"We had a good game going until about late in the third (quarter)," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "We gave up some huge plays and never could get it going on offense. I give Florida a lot of credit. They did a really good job late in the third and early in the fourth, and we couldn't recover. We were a little shell-shocked. Those were just enormous plays in the game."

Florida outscored Tennessee 27-6 in the second half and had nine plays of 20 or more yards for the game.

The Gators were hampered by multiple penalties in the first half but managed to overcome the mistakes. The second half was a stark contrast. In the first, Bray had a field day with Florida's secondary. He was 13-of-23 for 153 yards and two touchdowns (21-of-34 for 249 for the game), and the Gators couldn't cover receivers Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Mychal Rivera.

But the defense stiffened, holding the Vols to 5 total yards in the fourth quarter.

Burton scored the Gators' only first-half touchdown, a 14-yard run in the first quarter. Burton, senior running back Mike Gillislee and Driskel combined for 29 carries for 287 yards.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

   
Comments
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

Florida State routs Delaware State 77-6

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher longed for his team to play in this type of game throughout its disappointing season.After Hurricane Irma caused a three-week layoff between FSU’s first two games, forcing it to play 11 in a row to finis...
Updated: 11 hours ago
A welcome return to dominance for the Florida defense

A welcome return to dominance for the Florida defense

GAINESVILLE — Chauncey Gardner wasn’t fooled. He saw UAB snap the ball. He saw the quarterback throw a screen. He saw the receiver fire a second pass downfield. Then a crowd of 84,649 saw the sophomore safety high-point the trick-play pass to earn hi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Florida back on track with non-conference blowout of UAB

Florida back on track with non-conference blowout of UAB

GAINESVILLE — Florida’s next head coach — whether it’s odds-on favorite Chip Kelly or someone else — should be encouraged by Saturday’s 36-7 win over UAB.Not because the Gators (4-6) snapped a five-game losing streak by beating up on a 7-4 Blazers te...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Matt Baker’s takeaways from Florida-UAB

Matt Baker’s takeaways from Florida-UAB

1. A milestone Florida probably doesn’t want to celebrate: Johnny Townsend became the school’s all-time leading punter with his 232rd career punt. But Townsend has legitimately been one of the team’s MVPs.2. It took far too long, but UF’s tight ends ...
Published: 11/18/17
Basketball: Gators romp; key player hurt for Hurricanes

Basketball: Gators romp; key player hurt for Hurricanes

GAINESVILLE — Behind a balanced effort and six double-figure scorers, No. 8 Florida dominated North Florida 108-68 Thursday. Junior KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 18 points. The balanced scoring helped Florida (2-0) dismantle the Ospreys (0-4) fr...
Published: 11/16/17
College football week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions

College football week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions

The Times’ college football coverage team makes its picks for week 12 games:gametimeMartin Fennelly, @mjfennellyMatt Baker, @MBakerTBTimesTraci Johnson, @TBHomeTeamMike Sherman, @mikeshermanTom Jones, @tomwjonesJoey Knight, @TBTimes_BullsAgainst the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Will Chip Kelly be the Gators’ next head coach?

Rick and Tom podcast: Will Chip Kelly be the Gators’ next head coach?

The Florida Gators are vetting Chip Kelly to potentially be their next head coach, but is he their first choice? In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss what the future holds for the Gators and whether the coach will be Chip Kelly,...
Published: 11/15/17
College Football Playoff: Miami up to No. 3 in rankings, two-loss teams lurk

College Football Playoff: Miami up to No. 3 in rankings, two-loss teams lurk

Tuesday’s latest round of the College Football Playoff committee’s weekly rankings shows a clear path to a (relatively) controversy-free final four.Win out, and No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Wisconsin are in. So, too, is the winner of No. 2...
Published: 11/14/17
Is Miami officially back? We let the turnover chains decide

Is Miami officially back? We let the turnover chains decide

MIAMI — A question that has been bubbling up all season crescendoed over the weekend after Miami’s 33-point thrashing of Notre Dame. Is the U back?"We are back," former Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted. "I don’t think anybody can say we’re not," receiver Braxto...
Published: 11/13/17