GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Started with possibly TennesseeThe best offensive drive of the season, but not much else went right for the Vols on Saturday night.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium continued to be a house of horrors for No. 11 Tennessee. A 5 point loser at home, Florida He rushed for over 175 yards and took a big lead on his way to a 29-16 upset.
The loss extended the Vols’ consecutive losing streak to the Gators to 10 games.
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Tennessee (2-1, 0-1 SEC) struggled to maintain its momentum in the first quarter, which was hampered by missed tackles, penalties and an abysmal performance from the offensive line.
Attack player Joe Milton III He finished 20 of 34 passing for 287 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Tennessee was held to 106 yards rushing.
Florida quarterback (2-1, 1-0) Graham Mertz he completed 19 of 24 for 166 yards and a score and the running back Trevor Eitenne he rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown.
Florida moved the ball on its first series, converting three times on third down and reaching the Tennessee 23-yard line, but two tackles for loss Aaron Beasley and Gabe Jeudy-Lally forced the Gators to attempt a 46-yard field goal that fell short and left them empty-handed.
Tennessee hosted a textbook drive. The Vols drove 71 yards in two minutes, including a 41-yard pass from Milton to White Squirrel. Ramel Keyton He caught an 11-yard pass from Milton in the end zone on the next play to give Tennessee a 7-0 lead.
Florida responded with a quick advance of its own. On the first try, Trevor Eitenne broke through the Vols’ defense for a 62-yard touchdown run, but the resulting extra point was blocked to keep Tennessee ahead, 7-6.
After Tennessee’s second drive stalled, Florida went on a long, methodical drive that consumed 14 minutes of time. It was topped by a Montrell Johnson Jr. ran to put the Gators ahead, 12-7, but the two-point attempt failed.
Florida increased its lead with the first interception of Milton’s Tennessee career. The return set up the Gators with a short field inside the 10 and Mertz scored on a keeper up the middle to make the score 19-7.
Mertz avoided a sack and found Johnson for his second touchdown, an 18-yard catch and run to increase Florida’s lead to 26-7 just before halftime.
Tennessee got to the Gators’ 25-yard line on its first drive of the third quarter, but settled for a Carlos Campbell 42-yard field goal to reduce their deficit to 26-10. Florida’s offense stalled for much of the quarter, but the Vols failed to convert twice on fourth down.
Florida continued to run out the clock, achieving a run of more than five minutes inside the 10 and a Trey Blow The field goal extended their lead to 29-10 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Milton provided some late momentum with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Bruce McCoy That brought Tennessee within 29-16, but Milton was out of bounds on the two-point attempt.
Tennessee’s initial drive down the field was the most similar to last season’s offense to this point in 2023.
White ran wide down the sideline for a first down and Milton connected with Keyton for the second time in as many weeks for the go-ahead touchdown in what looked like an early statement, but the Vols struggled to replicate that success the rest of the game. shape.
Omarr Norman-Lott He made an impact on special teams, blocking Florida’s field goal on their first drive and hitting an extra point briefly maintaining Tennessee’s lead.
Two Tennessee wide receivers scored in Keyton and McCoy. It was McCoy’s first touchdown of the season and helped the Vols cut into Florida’s lead late. Don’t be Thornton Jr. He made the most of his goals in the second half. He finished with three catches for 53 yards.
Campbell made 3 of 3 kicks in Tennessee’s 30-13 win against. Austin Peay last week and continued to show consistency with his 42-yard boot in the first half in a difficult road environment.
Tennessee returns to Neyland Stadium for its third non-conference game against UTSA.
The Roadrunners won 11 games last season but are off to a 1-2 start, falling to Army on his last outing.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 pm ET on SEC Network.