Vols Lose on Hail Mary Revenge, Florida Wins 26-20

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    A little less than a year ago, Vol fans were celebrating after a miraculous Hail Mary touchdown propelled the Vols to victory over Georgia.

    This time, the Hail Mary karma was not in Tennessee’s favor.

    Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks escaped pressure, rolled out, and heaved a 63-yard pass down the field and connected with Tyrie Cleveland in the end zone to give the Gators a miraculous 26-20 victory over the Vols.

    Tennessee had just tied the game up on their last possession thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Aaron Medley with just 50 seconds left to play. And the Gators looked like they had botched their possession after that field goal, scrambling to get a first down and leaving just nine seconds on the clock.

    But then the Vols were stunned by a Hail Mary. And this time, they were on the wrong end of the miracle.

    The Vols had plenty of opportunities to grab a lead or win the ball game before the final play, however. Tennessee missed three field goals in the game and failed to score touchdowns on several promising drives in Florida territory. Quarterback Quinten Dormady threw an interception in the end zone, and he also threw a pick-six to a Gators defense that had two interception touchdowns against Michigan in their season opener.

    Speaking of that interception in the end zone: Tennessee’s play-calling on that possession was one of their worst series in the game.

    The Vols got the ball down to the one-yard line, then Dormady’s pass was almost intercepted in the end zone, the Vols had a penalty called against them that pushed them back five yards, freshman receiver Josh Palmer dropped a touchdown, John Kelly lost a yard on a screen pass, then Dormady threw the interception.

    John Kelly, who finished with a career-high 141 rushing yards on 19 carries, didn’t get a single carry at the goal line on that possession.

    Kelly was one of the main bright spots for the Vols in this one. Not only did he set a career high in rushing yards, but he also caught six passes for 96 yards. He lead the team in both rushing and receiving in the game.

    But not even his gutsy effort was enough.

    Dormady finished the game 21-of-39 for 259 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions, including that one in the end zone and the pick-six. Jarrett Guarantano saw the field for one play, and it was because Dormady left briefly with a mild injury. Guarantano’s lone play was the penalty at the goal line, and Dormady came in after the penalty.

    Tennessee will look back at this game and see a multitude of missed opportunities, blown assignments, missed tackles, and questionable play-calling. All of that led up to what will go down as one of the most exciting wins for the Gators in the series.

    Vol fans, however, will want to forget this game as quickly as they can.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.