GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WATE) — Tennessee showed they still have a ways to go to compete with the top teams in the SEC after Saturday’s 38-14 loss on the road at Florida.
Things didn’t start well for the Vols, after a three and out to start the game for the Tennessee offense, Florida went 60 yards in ten plays capped by a four-yard touchdown connection from Emory Jones to Malik Davis. The drive took 4:33 off the clock and gave Florida a 7-0 lead with 9:20 to play in the first quarter.
Tennessee quickly answered when Hendon Hooker hit Tiyon Evans on a screen pass and he scampered 47 yards to the end zone to tie the score at 7 with 7:05 to plain the first quarter. The TD run capped a six play 80-yard drive that took just 2:05 off the clock.
The Vols defense got a much needed stop on the next Florida possession with the help of a couple of Gator penalties. Florida kicker Chris Smith booted a 47-yard field goal to give the Gators a 10-7 lead after the first quarter.
Early in the 2nd quarter the Vols offense finally capitalized on the deep ball as Hooker hit JaVonta Payton in stride for a 75 yard touchdown connection to give Tennessee the lead for the first time in the game at 14-10 with 11:31 to play in the second quarter.
Hooker finished the game 13/23 for 221 yards 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.
Florida retook the lead 17-14 when Nay’Quan Wright found the end zone on a 23-yard touchdown run with 4:15 remaining in the first half.
Late in the half with Florida threatening to take a two score lead, Alontae Taylor ripped the ball out of the hands of Jacob Copeland and Aaron Beasley recovered for the only turnover by either team in the first half. Tennessee’s Chase McGrath missed a 47-yard field goal wide right to end the half with Florida leading 17-14.
Penalties were an issue again for Tennessee. The Vols finished the game with 10 penalties for 85 yards.
Florida got the scoring started in the second half as head coach Dan Mullen reached into the bag of tricks with a double pass. Emory Jones swung it out to wide receiver Trent Whittemore who found Kenmore Gamble running free in the end zone to give the Gators a 24-14 lead.
After Tennessee turned it over on downs on the next possession Florida found the end zone again when Jones rolled to his right and found a wide open Rick Wells to extend the lead to 31-14. The Gator’s first two drives of the second half combined for 14 plays, 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee’s defense came into the game giving up just 54.3 yards per game on the ground, Saturday night Florida’s offense rushed for 283 yards.