KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Three words describe Tennessee’s play in Gainesville on Saturday: self-inflicted wounds.
The Gators took control of the scoreboard on their opening drive. Kyle Trask found Kyle Pitts in the endzone on the fifth play of the drive. The 19-yard score was capped off by a 75 yard drive for Florida.
Six plays later, the Vols defense was back on the field in Gainesville. Malik Davis got the call for the Gators rushing for six yards before Nigel Warrior forced the fumble. The original recovery by Warren Burrell was overturned – as he was deemed out of bounds. Gators got the ball back only to fumble again two plays later, this time it went in favor of the Orange and White. Senior Daniel Bituli credited with a forced fumble, Henry To’oto’o comes up with the football at the Florida 19.
A light of hope for Tennessee, that’s quickly extinguished. 3rd and goal at the three yard line, Jarrett Guarantano’s pass goes through the hands of Jauan Jennings and instead ends up in the hands of Trey Dean, III, for a Florida touchback. Guarantanos’ first of two interceptions, coming on consecutive drives, the second would prove more costly.
On third and long a miscommunication between Guarantano and Marquez Callaway led to a Marco Wilson interception. Tennessee’s defense kept the Gators out of the paydirt, but not off the scoreboard as Evan McPherson drilled a 22 yard field goal.
Florida found the paydirt once more before the end of the half as Lamical Perine buried his way to the end zone for a one yard score as time expired.
The Vols end the first half trailing 17-0, having rushed 9 times for a total of 15 yards.
Brian Maurer would start the second half under center for Tennessee – the first time the Vols opted for a quarterback change while trailing in a game this season.
Maurers’ first drive included complete passes to Jennings, Brandon Johnson and Josh Palmer for a combined 46 yards. But it also included three incomplete passes and two sacks paving the way for a 40 yard field goal off the foot of Brent Cimaglia. Tennessee trailing 17-3.
Maurers’ second drive, coming after a 29 yard touchdown pass from Trask to Freddie Swain making it a 24-3 Gators game, ended with a pick on third-and-ten. His pass, intended for Dominick Wood-Anderson, broken up and batted into the air and Florida’s Amari Burney makes the catch.
The Vols defense followed suit on third down when Theo Jackson intercepted Trask’s pass. After the Tennessee offense failed to convert on third-and-four, the Vols defense again got them the ball. This time, Alontae Taylor securing the interception for Tennessee.
Jeremy Pruitt opting for his veteran quarterback to retake the reins of the offense. Guarantano led the offense fifty yards before a false start set them back five and Tennessee committed another turnover. Amari Burney forcing an Eric Gray fumble, Burney recovered at the Florida 36.
Florida added another ten points before sixty minutes of play concluded in the swamp and the Vols dropped to 1-3, falling to the Gators 34-3.
Tennessee (1-3) enters their bye week before hosting Georgia at Neyland Stadium on October 5th.