Florida Gators

Rapid Recap- Gators outlast Tennessee for first win

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Through three quarters, it was a Florida-Tennessee game that had woeful  offense. However, it became a dramatic fourth quarter, and in the end, as crazy a finish as you could imagine.

After a pitiful offensive display by both teams through three quarters, it was the Gator defense that, once again, struck for six:

C.J. Henderson’s “early Christmas present” floating to him in the flat, gave Florida a ten point advantage 13-3. And, it was the third interception return for a touchdown already this season for the Gators D. They had two in the opening loss against Michigan.

To the Vols credit they show heart and serious hustle. First, it looked like the Gators were going to break the game open shortly after getting that 10 point lead. But, after breaking free on a long run, RB Malik Davis was run down from behind, and….

The heroic hustle play of two defenders caused the strip and a touch back and kept Florida off the board. The Vols, took advantage of the turnover and then, got back within three on this run by power back John Kelly:

With both offenses coming to life, the Gators finally showed some offense on their own. Aided by a Tennessee unsportsmanlike penalty on the TD, Florida got a good kick return. Then, picked up a couple of first downs and that set up their first offensive TD of the season:

Brandon Powell’s TD catch from Feleipe Franks was the first for Florida’s offense, going all the way back to November of last season. And, the Gators once again had their cushion at 20-10.

With both offenses “frisky” in the fourth quarter, the Vols came back behind their new QB Quinten Normady, who hit tight end Ethan Wolf with a 28 yard score, and it was again a three point deficit, at 20-17.

Franks then threw a deflected interception on a third down in the final four minutes, which set Tennessee up to either tie with a field goal or win it. The Vols got to the nine yard line for first and goal, but Normady threw incomplete three times and they settled for a tying field goal at 20-20 with :50 remaining.

That set the stage for Florida to get one last chance and it came down to this miracle throw on third and one in their own territory:

It’s officially a 63-yard TD pass from Franks to Tyre Cleveland on the final play and it won the game 26-20. It was reminiscent of the Gators winning against the Vols on Will Grier’s 4th and 13 TD pass to Antonio Callaway late in the 2015 victory.

That was a catch and run. This was a minor miracle aided by dumb final play secondary strategy by Tennessee to not have a deep safety at the goal line.

It’s Florida’s 12th victory in 13 games against Tennessee and their amazing 28th win in a row in home openers.

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