Key mistakes swamp Vols, 31-17

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

KNOXVILLE (AP) -- Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns and No. 10 Florida beat Tennessee 31-17 on Saturday for its sixth consecutive win in the series.

The Gators (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) grabbed a third straight win in Knoxville for the first time in the 40-game series after failing to pull of the feat in 1990, 1998 and 2004.

For a second straight week, they played sluggishly early in the game and had only 94 yards of offense at halftime.

Tennessee (1-2, 0-1) tied the game at 10 with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Matt Simms to Denarius Moore with 8:59 in the third quarter. Simms completed 19 of 31 for two touchdowns and a pair of turnovers.

Florida appeared beat on the next drive until coach Urban Meyer called for a fake punt on fourth-and-6. Omarius Hines ran 36 yards to keep the drive alive, and John Brantley eventually connected with Frankie Hammond on a 7-yard touchdown pass. Brantley, starting in his first road game, completed 14 of 23 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Jeremy Brown picked off a pass by Simms on third-and-6 at the Tennessee 40, which set up Gillislee's second touchdown that gave the Gators a 24-10 lead just before the end of the third quarter.

The Vols had found themselves in a similar situation a week earlier against Oregon and unraveled. They seemed on the verge of a meltdown again when Simms appeared to be sacked in the end zone for a safety, but an official review ruled him down on the 1.

Tennessee punted but got the ball back when coach Derek Dooley challenged a run by Jeff Demps, insisting the Florida track star had fumbled. The officials agreed, and the Vols answered with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Simms to Justin Hunter on fourth-and-6 to cut Florida's lead to 24-17 with a 11:24 left.

Florida responded with Trey Burton's 2-yard touchdown run that iced the Vols, who allowed two more big sacks on Simms and turned the ball over with a fumble by Tauren Poole.

Demps, who had only 17 yards rushing at halftime, finished with 73.

Before halftime, Florida looked like the team that struggled against Miami (Ohio) and in the first half against South Florida.

Mike Pouncey mishandled several snaps. One overshot Brantley in the shotgun and resulted in fourth-and-28 after Brantley fell on the ball 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Florida was twice flagged for illegal formation.

Tennessee scored first for the first time against Florida since 2001 when Daniel Lincoln kicked a late first-quarter 49-yard field goal, tying his career high.

But the Vols had their own first-half struggles. After recovering a fumbled punt return by Janoris Jenkins at the Florida 21, the Vols drove 18 yards but missed a chance to score when Jonathan Bostic picked off a pass by Simms thrown into double coverage in the end zone.

Tennessee's Tauren Poole, who entered the game leading the SEC in rushing, was held to 27 yards.


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