#11 Gators chomp down on Tennessee in the 2nd half

Florida makes it 5 straight over the Vols with a 38-14 win
Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 3:49 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee hits the road for the first time this season with a showdown against SEC East rival Florida in primetime on Saturday night in Gainesville.

The Vols are coming off a 56-0 shutout of Tennessee Tech last weekend and will look to carry that momentum into Saturday as they look to spring the upset against the 11th-ranked Gators. Question coming in, which quarterback will be the one to lead that up tempo offense? Hendon Hooker, who played most of the game against Tennessee Tech or Joe Milton III who is dressed out and going through pregame warmups in Gainesville.

Pregame warmups at Florida
Pregame warmups at Florida(Jim Boofer)

The Gators have won 15 of the last 16 games between these two SEC East rivals, with the exception being 2016 in Knoxville. Tennessee’s last win in the Swamp came back in 2003. Also, Josh Heupel is trying to become the first Tennessee head coach to beat the Gators in his first try. The last to do it was Phillip Fulmer, as UT’s interim head coach back in 1992.

Kickoff is 7pm on ESPN. Be sure to follow this thread and on WVLT Twitter for updates throughout the game. Then afterwards, tune in to WVLT News and WVLT Facebook for postgame comments from head coach Josh Heupel.


Gators win the toss, but defer to the second half. Vols on offense first led by quarterback Hendon Hooker. Out last week, Jabari Small gets the start at running back. Three and out though for Tennessee using just :56 on the clock.

Florida crossed mid-field quickly, thanks to a facemask penalty by Jeremy Banks and a pass to receiver Justin Shorter to set the Gators up inside the red zone. Florida set up first and goal on the six after quarterback Emory Jones moved the chains on third down. Facing another third down with goal to go from the four yard line, Emory Jones hit Malik Davis out of the backfield to put Florida on the board first, 7-0. The touchdown capped a 10-play, 66 yard drive for the Gators.

After a three-and-out the first drive, Hendon Hooker moved the chains on a designed quarterback run to pick up Tennessee’s first first down of the game. Facing a 3rd and 8 in Florida territory, Hendon Hooker hit running back Tiyon Evans for a 47 yard touchdown pass to tie the game back up at 7.

Scores a TD at Florida
Scores a TD at Florida(Jim Boofer)

Florida regains the lead after driving back into Tennessee territory, primarily on the ground. The Tennessee defense would stiffen up and force the Gators into a field goal situation. Jace Christmann was true from 48 yards out giving Florida a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter. Florida already 62 yards rushing, 36 of them courtesy of quarterback Emory Jones.

Vols begin drive number three from their own 22 yard line. Vols pick up short yardage on first down. On second down, Hooker’s pass to Jalin Hyatt is off the Mark. Then on third down, Hooker is forced out of the pocket and picks up only two yards forcing a 4th and 4 and Tennessee punt. It’s the 2nd three and out of the game for the Vols as the 2nd quarter comes to and end.


Florida starts its third drive from its own 29 yard line and no gain on 1st down. A short pass on 2nd down nets just three yards forcing a 3rd and 7. On third down Emory Jones runs the option and pitches to Malik Davis who comes up short of the first down forcing Florida’s first punt of the night.

The Vols second drive would start from their 11 yard line and end up with a 75 yard TD pass from Hooker to JaVonta Payton, who got behind the Florida secondary and was wide open. Hooker hits him in stride and the Vols finally get that big play down field they were looking for. The PAT makes it 14-10 Big Orange with 11:31 to go in the 2nd quarter. Hendon Hooker is 5-8 for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns.

After a batted pass on first down the Gators picked up a first on 3rd down. On the play, UT’s Lattrell Bumphus was injured. Bumphus has missed the past couple games for the Vols. On the next play, Emory Jones was sacked by senior Ja’Quain Blakely, who playing in his third game at the swamp. The Vols would pressure Emory Jones and he’d come up a yard short after taking a big hit, a hit which would leave Florida’s starting center and UT lineman Tyler Baron banged up.

The Gators would punt it to the Vols who backed up deep. Tennessee would pick up one first down on a quick swing pass to Jalin Hyatt. The drive would stall forcing another Paxton Brooks punt. Just a 34 yard effort to the Gators 41 yard line.

Florida takes over still trailing the Vols 14-10. The Gators would continue to move the ball. Jones finally goes down field and hits Xzavier Henderson with a 20 yard pass. a 5 yard offsides penalty on Tennessee takes it down to the Vols 23 yard line where Nay’Quan Wright makes some Vols miss on his way right up the middle into the Tennessee end zone. Florida regains the lead at 17-14 with 4:15 remaining in the half.

The Vols go back on offense and go three and out. On second down, Hooker misses a wide open Jacob Warren in Florida territory. Then on 3rd down a poor snap by Cooper Mays forces Hooker into panic mode and the QB is sacked by the Gators.

A tough situation for Tennessee as Florida gets a shot at the old two for one. A possible score to end the half and they get the ball first after the break. Making matters worse, Jimmy Holiday interferes with the punt returner on the catch. Holiday is also flagged for targeting. Then William Mohan is flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty. Tack on another 15 yards and the 30 yards in penalties will take the ball into Tennessee territory at the 40 yard line!

But what a finish to the first half, with the Gators driving and going for it on 4th down, the pass is completed, but Alontae Taylor rips the ball out of the receiver’s hands and LB Aaron Beasley recovers the fumble giving Tennessee new life. The Vols would drive into Gator territory, but Chase McGrath misses a 47 yard FG wide right as time expires. We head to the break with Florida maintaining a 17-14 lead.

Certainly a lot of promise and hope for the Voles heading into the 2nd half. Tennessee has outgained the Gators 261 to 213 yards, but again trail where it counts, by three points on the scoreboard.


Vols take the opening kick of the second half and drive down the field on the passing of Emory Jones, but it was Trent Whittemore takes the backwards pass from Jones and then hits a wide open Kemore Gamble from 13 yards out. PAT makes it 24-14 Gators.

Tennessee’s turn to try and answer. The Vols begin a drive and get some strong running from backs Jabari Small and Tyon Evans, but Evans would come up hurt during the drive. Evans would return and the Vols would march on, but face a 4th and 5. Coach Heupel decided to go for it and was almost rewarded, but a wide open Jimmy Calloway drops the short Hendon Hooker pass and Tennessee turns it over on downs.

The Gators would waist little time marching back down the field. 8 plays in 70 yards capped off by an Emory Jones to Rick Wells TD pass covering 9 yards. The Gators extend their lead to 31-14 over the Vols with 2:04 remaining in the 3rd quarter.


And the cherry on top comes late for Florida. The Gators complete a 12 play drive with a 9-yard TD run by Malik Davis. Florida does end up covering that 20 point spread and hands Josh Heupel his first SEC loss. 38-14 is the final as Tennessee drops to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in league play heading to Missouri next Saturday.

The Gators have now won 16 of the last 17 games in the series and five straight. Head coach Dan Mullen also improves to 4-0 against Tennessee.

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