Vols Fall To Florida, 38-14, In SEC Opener

Sunday, September 26, 2021
- photo by Tennessee Athletic Communications

Trailing by only three at halftime, Tennessee was outscored 21-0 in the second half, falling to No. 11 Florida, 38-14, in its Southeastern Conference opener at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday evening.

Hendon Hooker completed 13-of-23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, while a balanced rushing attack of Jabari SmallTiyon Evans and Hooker ran for 148 yards. The Vols (2-2, 0-1 SEC) never turned the ball over and forced their first fumble of the season late in the second quarter, but it was not enough to overcome the Florida offensive attack.

After conceding a touchdown on the Gators' first drive, Hooker and Small ripped off back-to-back rushes of 15 and 16 yards, respectively, before Hooker connected with Evans on a slip screen for a 47-yard score with 7:05 left in the first quarter. 

The Volunteer defense held the Gators (3-1, 1-1) to a field goal after the Florida offense drove into the red zone. Tennessee's defense then forced a 3-and-out giving the Vols the ball at the 11. Four plays later, Tennessee finally connected on the elusive deep pass as Hooker found senior JaVonta Payton on a go-route on the left side for a 75-yard touchdown to go ahead 14-10 early in the second quarter. It was the longest scoring play for UT since a 94-yard touchdown run by Eric Gray vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 30, 2019, and the longest pass play since Oct. 30, 2015.

A low snap resulted in a punt that gave the Gators the ball on their own 41. Five plays later, Nay'Quan Wright broke open a 23-yard rush that regained the lead for Florida in the second quarter. After a Tennessee 3-and-out, the Gators looked to extend their lead going into halftime with the ball already in Vol territory. Alontae Taylor instead ripped the ball from Gator receiver Jacob Copeland, and Aaron Beasley jumped on it with just over a minute remaining in the first half.

Tennessee's high-octane offense did what it does best, moving the ball 55 yards in a minute of game time, but Chase McGrath's 47-yard field goal sailed right of the uprights as time expired. The Vols trekked into the locker room, trailing 17-14.

Florida had only two drives in the third quarter, but the Gators capitalized on both of them, scoring a 13-yard double-pass on the first drive and a nine-yard connection from Emory Jones to Rick Wells. Sandwiched between the touchdowns was Tennessee's longest duration possession in the first four games under Josh Heupel, totaling 6:07. Its previous high was 3:57 in the season opener against Bowling Green.

Defenses stood their ground in the fourth quarter as Florida scored the lone points of the period with 1:39 remaining in the contest. Joe Milton III entered the game at quarterback for the final two drives and completed two passes for 54 yards.

Florida outgained the Vols 505-423.

Trevon Flowers led all tacklers with a career-best 15 on the night. Flowers' 15 tackles were the most in a game for Tennessee since Daniel Bituli had 19 in a 17-13 win over Kentucky on Nov. 9, 2019.

The Vols return to road action next Saturday at Missouri. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET on SEC Network.


Two Home UTC Basketball Games To Be Aired On ESPNU

Lee Men Fall To Spring Hill College In Overtime

Western Carolina Earns 3-0 Shut Out Over UTC


The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team will play in front of a nationally televised audience twice inside McKenzie Arena this season with both airing on ESPNU, the Southern Conference league ... (click for more)

Spring Hill College tallied a goal 40 seconds into overtime to hand the Lee University men’s soccer team a 1-0 defeat Sunday afternoon in a Gulf South Conference contest. The Flames have dropped ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs fell 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Western Carolina in Southern Conference women’s soccer action at the Catamount Athletic Complex. “Not our best performance,” Mocs head coach ... (click for more)



Sports

Two Home UTC Basketball Games To Be Aired On ESPNU

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team will play in front of a nationally televised audience twice inside McKenzie Arena this season with both airing on ESPNU, the Southern Conference league office announced Monday morning. Chattanooga’s first bout on ESPNU will come in the SoCon opener against rival ETSU on December 30 (originally 12/29) at 7PM ET. The second is slated ... (click for more)

Lee Men Fall To Spring Hill College In Overtime

Spring Hill College tallied a goal 40 seconds into overtime to hand the Lee University men’s soccer team a 1-0 defeat Sunday afternoon in a Gulf South Conference contest. The Flames have dropped two straight matches and have lost their last three GSC battles to fall to 8-4 and 4-3 within the conference. The Badgers (8-5, 4-4 GSC) tallied the winning goal off Matthew Moreno’s ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has 4 More Virus Deaths And 63 New Cases; Number Of ICU Patients Continues To Drop; Tennessee Has 7 More Deaths

The Hamilton County Health Department reported four more coronavirus deaths on Monday and 63 new positive cases, down from 109 on Friday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 63,358. The death total is at 642. It is reported the deaths were all men; three white and one race not determined; two age 51-60 and two age 61-70. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations ... (click for more)

Daisy Madison To Retire As City's Chief Financial Officer After Nearly 20 Years

Daisy Madison, the city’s longtime chief financial officer, will conclude her distinguished career at City Hall this year as she begins her transition into retirement, she told senior staff Monday. Ms. Madison was hired as deputy chief finance officer in 1992 by former mayor Gene Roberts. She served with distinction under a succession of mayors, including Jon Kinsey, Bob Corker, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Tennessee Fans Hit A New Low - And Response (2)

Tennessee Vols fans hit a new low at the end of the UTK vs Ole Miss last evening. Maybe Lane Kiffin did us wrong when he left Knoxville for his dream team back in 2009, however, the crass and repulsive behavior of a large number of Tennessee fans didn’t reflect on Kiffin, it reflected on the great state of Tennessee. Has society really reduced itself to believing that reducing ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Beware Of The Cobra

Over the weekend my “Morning Readings” included a lesson that economists teach called the Cobra Effect. Jon Miltimore is the Managing Editor of the Foundation for Economic Education in Atlanta and his ‘FEE.org’ is a highly respected conservative libertarian economic think tank. In his story you are about to read, he claims economists around the world speak often on The Cobra Effect. ... (click for more)