Florida Beats Tennessee 31-17

The Florida Gators are starting to follow a pattern. A slow start, followed by a flurry of points in the second half, saw the Gators win for the sixth straight time over SEC rival Tennessee and go 3-0 to start the season. The Gators had opportunities to put Tennessee away, but the game wasn't sealed until late in the fourth quarter.

The Florida Gator defense showed up yet again in the first half against Tennessee. Florida stopped Tennessee on three plays on the first drive and allowed just two yards showing a new front which included five defensive linemen. The Gators started the game daring the Volunteer offense to try and throw the ball. The Vols went deep on the first play, the throw was incomplete. Terron Sanders had his first tackle of the season on second down with a two yard tackle for loss of Vols' running back David Oku.

After a high 46-yard punt, Chad Cunningham saw Janoris Jenkins return the ball four yards to the Vols' 46-yard line. It was the Gators turn on offense to see if they could snap out of their first quarter doldrums they have been in since the start of the season.

As it turns out, it was another slow start for Florida on offense as the Gators and Vols were tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Gator offense did manage 23 yards after seven plays on the first drive, but were set way back on 3rd-and-long with an errant Mike Pouncey snap that lost 15 yards on the play.

Florida followed that with a beautiful Chas Henry punt that amassed 47 yards and was downed at the 1-yard line.

The Gators allowed just two yards and three plays on the second Vol drive with the highlight being an Ahmad Black tackle behind the line of scrimmage and a loss of two yards by the SEC's leading rusher Tauren Poole. The play showcased the Gators ability to play Black, a string safety, in the tackle box and close to the line of scrimmage in this game. This ability to play with pressure was helped with the return of Will Hill at free safety following a two-game suspension. The Gators will play a lot of Cover-1 with Hill.

The Gators continued their offensive woes on the second drive going for it on fourth down and failing to convert when sophomore Mike Gillislee failed to get one yard.

The stop allowed the Vols the best field position of the quarter at their own 43-yard line. They would capitalize after eight plays and 25 yards with a Daniel Lincoln field goal.

The Gators would start the second quarter with the ball and the 3-0 deficit. After a 10-play, 58-yard drive, they would put themselves in the end zone for their first score of the game. The drive was highlighted by two third down conversions. The first was a 3rd-and-11 completion to Deonte Thompson who ran a deep drag and caught the ball for 16 yards. The second was a 3rd-and-6 from the Tennessee and freshman Robert Clark ran a drag route that he caught and was tackled at the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Gillislee was in for the first of his two touchdowns on the day.

The defense did their job on the next series and held Tennessee to three plays and just two yards, but Janoris Jenkins muffed the fourth down punt. The Vols would get the ball at the Gators' 40 only down by four and drove to the 3-yard line. Jon Bostic would make one of several key plays in the game when he intercepted a Matt Simms pass in the middle of the end zone.

Florida would run four plays on the next drive and punt. Tennessee would run six plays on their next drive and punt. Florida would run out the remainder of the clock to end the half.

Much like the week before, the Gators came out firing in the second half. Florida would score on their first three possessions of the second half and amount 17 straight points, but would rely on some trickery to do so.

On the Gators' first drive of the half, they would drive 43 yards on nine plays keyed by a stretch run from Jeff Demps for 18 yards. Demps who carried the ball 26 times and averaged just 2.8 yards per carry was bottled up for most of the day as he also lost 21 yards on negative yardage carries.

The Gators would end the drive and settle for a field goal on a 3rd-and-8 from the Volunteer 27 when Brantley threw a mid-range pass in the vicinity of two Florida receivers. The play looked as though one of the receivers was in the wrong place.

With Florida up 10-3, the Gator defense made one of two huge mistakes in the game. A blown coverage by sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown resulted in a Denarius Moore 49-yard touchdown catch. Brown would admit after the game that it was a great route and he just got burned by something that had not seen on film.

After the extra point, the game was tied 10-10 and Florida came out with an added emphasis on scoring some points. However, Florida seemed to squander their chances when a 3rd-and-6 pass from Brantley soared high over his intended receiver.

That is when Florida head coach Urban Meyer called the play of the game. On 4th-and-6 from their own 39-yard line. Meyer called a fake punt that resulted in the longest offensive play of the day. Tight end/receiver Omarius Hines took the short snap and ran with passion through a Vol defense that began the play in retreat to block for the punt, but had to come back to tackle Hines who rushed for 36 yards on the play.

Brantley would later hit senior Carl Moore on the drive for 14 yards on 3rd-and-8. The Gators were a very solid 8-of-14 on third down conversions and held Tennessee to 2-of-13 on the day. Brantley would hit sophomore Frankie Hammond on a 7-yard touchdown to end the drive. It was Hammond's first game back after a two game suspension. The Gators led 17-10 after Hammond's touchdown.

Florida's defense again held Tennessee to 15 yards on five plays when Jeremy Brown made amends for his earlier blown coverage and jumped a pass from Simms for an interception. Brown would go on to say after the game that Tennessee tipped off the play by the formation they ran.

Brown gave the Gators the ball at the Tennessee 40 and the Gators took advantage. Gillislee had a 9-yard run, Hines an 11-yard reception, and senior Emmanuel Moody had a 9-yard run that was capped off by Gillislee's 5-yard rush up the middle for the score. The ensuing extra point made the score 24-10, Florida.

The Florida defensive line got the next drive going with two of their six sacks on the day. On the second sack, which was the first play of the fourth quarter, linebacker Jelani Jenkins blitzed from the middle of the defense and hit Simms as he threw the ball away from the edge of the end zone. The play was called grounding, and the initial call from the referees was he was throwing the ball from the end zone resulting in a safety. After review of the play, it was determined Simms throw the ball from outside of the end zone, but the Vols would only get one more play before punting.

Florida's Demps would let the Vols off the hook after a fumble on 2nd-and-10 that was also reviewed and determined to be Tennessee's ball. Tennessee would take full advantage of the miscue and mount a six-play, 51-yard drive that included another blown coverage touchdown completion to the Vols freshman Justin Hunter. Simms made a good play after scrambling from a probable sack and finding Hunter wide open in the right side of the end zone.

With the score now at 24-17, Florida had a sense of urgency and scored for the last time on a nine-play, 61-yard play drive highlighted by 12-yard tough catch by Carl Moore and a Demps 16-yard run. Freshman Trey Burton would keep the ball as the quarterback on first and goal at the 3 for the final score of the game.

The Gator defense proved to be very stout on the day allowing Tennessee 288 total yards total and just 29 yards rushing on the day. The Gators added eight tackles for loss that included the six sacks on the day. Florida also added two interceptions totaling 10 in three games.

On offense, the Gators continued to play conservative, but did drop back and throw the ball medium quite a few times. John Brantley was 14-for-23 for 167 yards and the touchdown to Hammonds. Brantley now has five touchdowns and no interceptions on the three game season.

Deonte Thompson continues to be the main go to receiver and caught four more passes for 55 yards on the day.

The Gators move to 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC.
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