Despite some encouraging offensive moments, in the end, Tennessee couldn’t get out of its own way and lost to Florida.
Tennessee battled nearly neck-and-neck with Florida for the first half, trailing 17-14 at the half but outgaining Florida in total yards 261-213.
Hendon Hooker threw two first-half TDs, the first on this 47-yard screen pass to Tiyon Evans.
He also hit JaVonta Payton perfectly in stride on a 75-yard score, the longest completed pass for Tennessee since 2015.
Unfortunately, penalties and self-inflicted mistakes plagued Tennessee again this week. The last drive of the first half was just, well, wild. The Vols started on their own 15-yard line with about a minute left in the half. The Vols drove 25 yards in three plays, then committed two straight false start penalties. Hooker then completed two more passes for 40 yards, and Josh Heupel elected to not call a timeout, which allowed the offense to catch Florida reeling a bit, but then Hooker missed a pass to an open Velus Jones leaving just six seconds on the clock. Chase McGrath missed the 47-yard FG attempt wide right.
Florida took control quick at the start of the second half. going 78 yards on six plays and scoring on a double pass that looked strikingly similar to the one Pittsburgh used against Tennessee two weeks ago.
The defining moment of the game came on Tennessee’s next drive. The Vols used their ground game to move the ball and give the defense a bit of a rest after Florida doubled Tennessee in time of possession in the first half.
The Vols drove from their own 14-yard line to Florida’s 30 on a using eight-straight running plays on a 14-play march that ended when sophomore WR Jimmy Calloway dropped a 4th-down pass that he might have scored on, had he caught it.
drop on 4th down -- nothing but green in front of the WR pic.twitter.com/45qQutCx1Z— RockyTopTalk (@RockyTopTalk) September 26, 2021
Had that drive ended with a score, Florida would have still been leading by a FG. But instead, Florida turned around and scored another TD on its next drive, putting the game effectively out of reach.
Florida tacked on a few more scores in the fourth quarter, while Tennessee failed to score a point after halftime and gained just more than 100 total yards in the final two quarters.
In addition to some missed throws and Calloway’s drop, the Vols also committed 10 penalties for 85 yards continuing their trend of being one of the most penalized teams in the country.
On the bright side, Josh Heupel’s play calling was excellent, for the most part, and the offense showed legitimate potential. It was just always going to be an uphill battle against the No. 11-ranked Gators.
Florida’s Emory Jones finished the game passing 21 of 27 for 209 yards and two TDs, while also leading the Gators with 15 carries for 144 yards.
This marked the fifth-straight win for Florida in this series and the 15th win in the last 16 games.