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Sunday September 19, 2004Football Drops Game to Tennessee, 30-28

Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee sophomore kicker James Wilhoit kicked the game-winning 50-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game, as the Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Florida Gators 30-28, in front of a Neyland Stadium record 109,061 fans. Despite sophomore Chris Leak matching a career-high three touchdown passes, the Volunteers scored 16 points in the final quarter to improve to 2-0 overall, 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Gators drop to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in SEC play.

The Gators opened the scoring with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter, as Leak connected with senior receiver O.J. Small on a five-yard touchdown pass. Small, Florida's leading receiver on the evening, hauled in a career-high eight receptions for 76 yards. The five play 34-yard scoring drive was set up by sophomore defensive back Demetrice Webb recovering a Derrick Tinsley fumble.

The Volunteers would answer back as Jabari Davis scored on a one-yard run with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter to tie the score at seven.

With 14:16 remaining in the first half, Tennessee freshman quarterback Erik Ainge connected with Justin Reed on a 16-yard touchdown pass, to give the Volunteers their first lead of the game at 14-7.

The Gators replied midway through the second quarter as Leak hooked up with Jemalle Cornelius on his first career touchdown reception from nine yards out, knotting the score at 14 a piece. It was the longest scoring drive of the 2004 season, as the Gators drove the ball 97 yards for the tying score.

Just over two minutes later, the Gators capitalized on an Ainge interception by sophomore Terrence Holmes, the first of his career. DeShawn Wynn pounded his way into the end zone from a yard out, to give the Gators a 21-14 lead heading into the half on a two play, 30-yard drive.

After a scoreless third quarter by both teams, the Volunteers broke the scoring drought in the final quarter, as Bret Smith caught a 23-yard pass from Ainge to tie the game 21-21, with 13:02 remaining in the game.

From their own 19-yard line, the Gators got their longest play from scrimmage since the 1996 season, as Leak found sophomore Chad Jackson for a career-long 81-yard touchdown pass, to grab a 28-21 lead with 7:43 remaining in the contest. The touchdown by Jackson was the first of the 2004 season and only the second of his career. The scoring drive by the Gators covered 94 yards, making it the second longest scoring drive of the season.

The Volunteers answered back with 3:25 remaining in the game, as Ainge tossed his third touchdown pass of the game, this time finding Jayson Swain from 13 yards out to cut the Florida lead to 28-27. Wilhoit missed the extra point, ending his streak of 50 consecutive point after attempts, keeping the Gator lead at 28-27.

After a stalled Gator drive, the Volunteers took over at their own 39-yard line with 43 seconds remaining in the game. After two completions by Ainge to Chris Hannon, Wilhoit won the game with his 50-yard field goal.

Leak finished the game 21-of-30 for a career-high 286 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. For the second consecutive game, sophomore Channing Crowder lead the Gators with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. Kicker Matt Leach increased his successful PAT conversions to 59 in a row. Ciatrick Fason, for the second game in a row, lead the Gators in rushing as he ran for 80 yards on 15 attempts.

The Gators return to action on Saturday, Sept. 25, as they host SEC-foe Kentucky at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The game from the Swamp will be carried nationally by ESPN 2, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.






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