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FINAL: Florida 28 – Tennessee 27


Pre-game notes:

• NFL scouts from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings are in attendance at the game

• Bowl reps from the Orange, TaxSlayer and Citrus are also in attendance.

• The Vols are wearing the all-white Nike stormtrooper look for the first time as the Gators are going all blue in the midst of their “blue-out” game.

• Some rumors/buzz has circulated about Florida star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and his overall health. We’ll keep an eye on that going forward. Starting kicker Austin Hardin is also out for the Gators, in addition to the suspensions to CB Jalen Tabor, QB Treon Harris and the injury to LB Alex Anzalone that will keep some other Gators out. Hargreaves is on the field warming up about 40 minutes before kickoff.

• For Tennessee, we haven’t seen Pig Howard in pre-game warm-ups yet. Butch Jones said earlier in the week that he wasn’t sure how much the Vols would be able to get out of 2014’s leading receiver on Saturday against the Gators.

• Based on pre-game warm-ups, it looks like Marquez North, Von Pearson and Josh Malone might be getting the start at receiver. Josh Smith, Preston Williams and Jauan Jennings worked with the second team.

1st Quarter:

Nice stop by the Vols on the first drive. They forced a third and long, brought in four defensive ends and got the stop. Colton Jumper, LaDarrell McNeil and LaTroy Lewis were among the players who got starts for the Vols. Tennessee picked up one first down on its first offensive drive, but linebacker Antonio Morrison got around the right side of UT’s offensive line to take down Dobbs to end UT’s first drive. Marquez North, Von Pearson and Josh Malone were the starting receivers for the Vols.

Florida really got the run game going on its second drive. Kelvin Taylor had a 47-yard run right through the teeth of UT’s defense to set Florida up inside the 10. A couple plays later, Taylor himself punched it in from five yards out. Several Vols struggled to get off their blocks that drive, though obviously a lot of attention will go to Jumper, who got the surprise start and didn’t get off to a great start.

The Vols moved near midfield the next drive, but negative plays then killed them. A dropped pass, a negative run and a sack (again, coming around the right side of the O-line) knocked UT back and forced another punt.

Tennessee then finally got the creativity Vol fans have been looking for on their next offensive opportunity. Joshua Dobbs threw a backwards pass to Jauan Jennings, who threw it back to Dobbs for the 58-yard touchdown to tie the score. Great call and execution from the Vols on offense.

Both teams exchanged possessions one more time with no points scored as the Gators begin the second quarter with the football. Overall, after somewhat of a shaky start for Tennessee, the Vols got a huge jolt from the trick-play TD, though they’ll need to be able to get off blocks, pick up blocks on the offensive line and keep their composure in front of a pretty loud environment to end the streak today.

2nd Quarter: Tennessee leads 17-7

This was just a really, really nice quarter for Tennessee. They got things started with an eight-play, 84 yard touchdown drive that included, perhaps, Butch Jones’ finest call of his career at Tennessee on a 4th and short. Butch played Alvin Kamara on the dive, but Kamara would throw a jump-pass to Ethan Wolf before reaching the line of scrimmage, and the Vols were in business. Jalen Hurd punched it in once Tennessee got close, but credit the Vol offensive line for a very solid drive after a shaky first quarter. The Vols would also get points on their next drive in the form of a 34-yard field goal from Aaron Medley.

Tennessee’s defense looks like they have Florida’s offense figured out, cutting down on the explosive runs and really keeping everything in front of them in the passing game. LaDarrell McNeil’s interception of Will Grier kept the Gators off the board in the second quarter, and the Vols will now get the ball to start the second half.

Third Quarter: 

The Vols started the second half with a nice drive – converting a couple third downs, including a nice screen pass to Alvin Kamara for a first down where he made a Gator defender miss. Dobbs got tripped up just short of the first-down line on a third down scramble attempt, but he got Aaron Medley close enough to hit a 37-yard field goal to put Tennessee up 20-7. It’s obviously a good sign to see Medley hitting his kicks again after a shaky start to the season.

The Vols got a pair of sacks on the next drive to get a stop. After getting the ball back, Joshua Dobbs fumbled, the Gators recovered and then took off for the end zone. Officials ruled that Dobbs did, indeed, fumble, Florida did recover, but the defenders had his knee on the ground, giving them the ball at the UT 29. Tennessee was able to force a quick three and out, forcing a 42-yard field goal attempt, or at least the Vols thought. Florida brought the kick team on the field, Tennessee called a timeout and then Florida brought the offense back on the field. The Gators converted, got inside the 5 and scored on the next play to cut the lead to 20-14.

It’s obviously second-guessing and using hindsight, but that was the second time that Florida brought a kicking unit on the field, Butch used a timeout and then the Gators regrouped, brought the offense on the field and converted. Those could come back to hurt UT later in the game.

A nice punt return by Alvin Kamara set the Vols up with decent field position near the end of the third quarter. Tennessee enters the fourth quarter with the lead, the ball and every opportunity to end the streak, but must now finish.

Fourth quarter: 

On two straight third downs, the Gators looked like they had Dobbs wrapped up but he made them pay anyway. This one result in a first down even though a block in the back penalty negated a portion of the run.

The Vols looked like they had a massive touchdown before an ineligible man downfield took it off the board. That set up a 3rd and 13 and Dobbs connected with Ethan Wolf for a TD. On 3rd and goal Jalen Hurd mauled the Gators for a big touchdown to put the Vols up 27-14.

Florida converted several fourth downs on the next drive on the way to a touchdown to cut the lead to 27-21. Tennessee, playing it close to the vest, went three and out after three consecutive runs and Florida got the ball back at their 42 with 2:18 remaining. The Gators, on 4th and 14 , struck to take a 28-27 lead.

The Vols worked their way into field goal range before an illegal substitution penalty pushed the ball back and Medley was forced to attempt a 55-yard field goal. It barely missed and the Vols fell 28-27.

Butch Jones’ decision not to go for two earlier in the fourth quarter, when a conversion would have given the Vols a 14-point lead, proved fatal for Tennessee.

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