FOOTBALL: Happy 50th Anniversary Gators

A mere three weeks before the US Senate censured Senator Joseph McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a senator, an SEC landmark occurred. One which greeted Gators fans with pure jubilation.

Pull out the champagne Gators fans, for 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of Florida's first ever victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. Head Coach Bob Woodruff's Gators traveled to Knoxville on November 13th and defeated the hated Volunteers 14-0. The highlight was a then record 80 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Richard Allen to Ray Brown. The previous record was a 74 yard bomb from Tommy Harrison to Fergie Ferguson against Miami in 1941. Tennessee had owned a 10-0 series record against Florida, so the victory was of particular delight to Woodruff and his Fightin' Gators.

And it was a victory that would have to have serious shelf life, as the Gators dropped a 20-0 homecoming contest to Tennessee the following year. Additionally, the two teams would not meet again until a record crowd of 72,248 watched as Florida Coach Ray Graves ended his University of Florida career with a 14-13 victory over Doug Dickey's Tennessee Volunteers 14-13 in the '69 Gator Bowl. Of course, Dickey officially became the Florida Head Coach after the game.

The Gator Bowl would not see a crowd of this size until 1977, when Jackie Sherrill's Pitt Panthers roasted Charley Pell's Clemson Tigers 34-3.

Subsequent anniversaries have also greeted the Gators well. Florida celebrated the 30th anniversary with a 43-30 win over the Vols in Knoxville under then Coach Galen Hall. The game featured a pair of All-Americans on the offensive line in Florida's Lomas Brown and Tennessee's Bill Mayo. The Great Wall of Florida provided plenty of protection for freshman quarterback Kerwin Bell and opened huge holes for running back Neal Anderson, who left the Vols in a rubble with an 80 yard touchdown run. The Graceville native finished the day with 178 yards.

The 40th anniversary was all Gators as Steve Spurrier led his troops north for a 31-0 shellacking of Tennessee. Florida thoroughly dominated every aspect of that game. Of particular interest was the fact that the inexperienced Tennessee quarterbacks lay in mound of turf courtesy of Kevin Carter, Ellis Johnson, Ben Hanks, and Henry McMillian.

Happy 50th Gators! Don't forget to toast the Gators as they yet again face a contingent of inexperienced Tennessee quarterbacks.

Fightin Gators Top Stories