Saturday September 20, 2008Florida Tops Tennessee 30-6 in Knoxville
The No. 4 Florida Gators opened SEC play in front of a crowd of 106,138 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Saturday, topping the Tennessee Volunteers 30-6. The Gators improved to 3-0 (1-0 SEC), while Tennessee moved to 1-2 (0-1 SEC). The UF win brings the series record with the Volunteers to 19-19 and makes head coach Urban Meyer the only coach in UF history to open his career with three-straight wins over the Vols.
Junior quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the charge for Florida, completing 8-of-15 passes for 96 yards, connecting with both sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn.) and junior Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) for touchdowns on the day. Harvin led the Florida receivers with two catches, good for 49 yards and one touchdown, while Hernandez additionally tallied two receptions for 15 yards.
Redshirt sophomore Emmanuel Moody (Coppell, Texas) led all UF rushers with 9 attempts for 55 yards.
The Gator defense caused three Tennessee turnovers in the first half alone, two of which were in the red zone. Freshman cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Pahokee, Fla.) rallied for the Florida defense, forcing one Tennessee fumble and reeling in three tackles, while also recording the first interception of his career on a Volunteer pass to the end zone to conclude the first half of play.
Junior Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) ignited the Gators’ first stanza with a 52-yard kickoff return after the Volunteers deferred on the coin toss until the second half. Following a 44-yard, eight-play drive, Tebow connected with Hernandez on a two-yard pass with the extra point attempt good by senior Jonathan Phillips (Wellington, Fla.), giving Florida a 7-0 advantage.
On Tennessee’s first drive of the game, the Gator defense held the Vols to third-and-long situation at their own 23-yard line, spurring Jenkins to cause a fumble off of UT quarterback Jonathan Crompton’s pass, while teammate, redshirt junior linebacker Ryan Stamper (Jacksonville, Fla.), was credited with the recovery.
Florida took over on the Tennessee 23-yard-line, ending the drive with a Phillips 39-yard field goal attempt, the second of his career, bringing the Gators ahead 10-0.
The Florida defense held Tennessee on its next possession, forcing a Volunteer punt that James returned 78 yards for a Gator touchdown, tying an all-time Florida career record for punt returns for a touchdown, with four total. The record, set by Jacquez Green, dates back Green’s tenure at UF from 1995-97. Phillips’ extra point following the return gave Florida a 17-0 advantage.
Following an eight-minute, 14-play drive in the second quarter, Tennessee’s longest drive up to that point, Crompton fumbled on the Florida two-yard line. Sophomore defensive end Carlos Dunlap (North Charleston, S.C) recovered the fumble, giving Florida possession of the ball with 14:37 left in the half.
The Gators capitalized on the Volunteers’ fumble when Phillips ended Florida’s 12-play, 75-yard drive with his third career field goal, a 40-yard boot that put the Orange and Blue ahead 20-0.
On Tennessee’s final drive of the half, the Volunteers faced fourth and goal at the Florida one-yard line. Crompton’s pass to Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker was intercepted by Florida’s Jenkins, the first of his career, to take the Gators into the locker room ahead at the half.
Florida opened the second half of play, continuing their dominating defensive stance, holding Tennessee to three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter. The Orange and Blue struck again with 4:29 left in the third stanza when Tebow found Harvin for a 15-yard lobb to the end zone, followed by a Phillips point after attempt, resulting in a 27-0 margin.
Tennessee put its first points on the board to start the fourth quarter on a one-yard rush from Crompton after a 62-yard, nine-play drive. UF sophomore defensive end Justin Trattou (Ramsey, N.J.) recorded his second career pass deflection on a failed Tennessee two-point conversion attempt, bringing the margin to 27-6 with 14:18 left in the game.
At the 9:29 mark following a 10-play, 53 yard drive, Florida countered again when Phillips connected for his third field goal of the game, kicking a 27-yard attempt through the uprights, bringing his career total to four, lifting Florida ahead 30-6, the final margin.
Crompton finished the afternoon completing 18-of-28 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown, while Tennessee’s Arian Foster led the Volunteer rushing corps with 14 rushes for 37 yards.
Florida will be back in action when it hosts SEC foe Ole Miss Sept. 27 in Gainesville. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and will be broadcast on Raycom Sports.