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  1. Sports

After emotional week, Gators' Bryan Cox posts big game

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If Bryan Cox had decided to skip Saturday's game against rival Tennessee, nobody would have blamed him.

Cox spent the week grieving the loss of his grandfather, Otis Williams. On Thursday, he left his teammates to attend his grandfather's wake, then joined his family on Friday for the funeral. He made it to the team hotel about 10:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the sophomore defensive lineman had a career-high five solo tackles and three sacks (for a loss of 26 yards). Cox is the son of former Dolphins linebacker and Bucs assistant Bryan Cox, currently the Falcons' defensive line coach.

"It never crossed my mind (not to play) at all," the Fort Lauderdale native said. "I love this game, and I felt like he would want me to play this game. There was none of that at all."

Coach Will Muschamp praised Cox's performance in the midst of his personal tragedy. "The last couple of days, it's been a very hard time for him," he said.

SENIORS REJOICE: With Florida's 10th consecutive win over Tennessee, the seniors will leave having never lost to the Vols. Probably none was happier than Tampa Catholic High alumnus Chaz Green, whose parents are UT alums. "It's great," the offensive lineman said. "It's a big rivalry, and we've got a lot of seniors that have never lost here. And it was big that we won the way we did, coming back in the fourth quarter."

GAME CHANGER: Entering the game, Austin Hardin had missed six consecutive field goals dating to last season, when he lost his starting job. But when he was called on, Hardin delivered the 49-yard winning field goal with 6:20 remaining.

"Going in it was one of those things, you've got to make it," the redshirt sophomore from Atlanta said. "I knew I was going to make it. Going out there, there was a little bit of wind, but I was just going through my head, 'I'm going to make this.' I was able to put it through."

NEAL'S GAME-SAVER: With the Vols driving, S Keanu Neal intercepted Tennessee QB Justin Worley at the Gators 23 yard line with 51 seconds remaining to seal the win.

"It was a low throw due to (DB Marcus) Maye and his great coverage, and I was able to make a play," Neal said. "I was just thinking, 'That's the game. I just made a play to win the game.' "

FINAL WORD: "The same way that I would handle any other week of practice — go out there and practice hard and do what I can in order to help win the game. I don't know what the plan is from here, but I know that Coach Muschamp's going to put the guy out there who he thinks is going to have the best chance for this team, and we're going to go from there after we make that decision. Right now this is just a big win, and that's what I want taken away from it.." — Junior Jeff Driskel, on how he'll respond if there's a quarterback competition and whether he and freshman Treon Harris might split time next weekend when No. 15 LSU visits Gainesville.

Contact Antonya English at aenglish@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Gators.

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