The come back kings are at it again! The Florida Gators have won eight straight against the Tennessee Volunteers, and for the second straight week came from behind on the road to win a conference game. The No. 18 Gators (3-0, 2-0 SEC) gave head coach Will Muschamp a long-awaited signature win, a 37-20 victory Saturday night in Knoxville.
The Gators were trailing 20-13 before coming back with some hard hits. Jeff Driskel threw two touchdowns passes and Trey Burton ran for a pair of scores as Florida scored the game’s final 24 points. It ended so stunningly that Tennessee took the score off the scoreboards the second it ended.
“We’ve put a tremendous emphasis on winning the fourth quarter, winning the second half and wearing down our opponent,” Muschamp said. “That’s something we’ve been able to do in the first three ballgames. That’s something our kids have bought into doing.”
This comeback was particularly noteworthy because Tennessee hadn’t lost a game it led at halftime since Derek Dooley took over as the Vols’ coach in 2010. Through the first 27 games of Dooley’s tenure, the Vols had been 13-0 when leading at halftime and 0-14 when tied or behind at the midway point.
It began with an 80-yard touchdown run by Burton and 23-yard touchdown pass from Driskel to Jordan Reed in a three-minute span on successive drives. The plays gave Florida a lead – at 27-20 – they would not lose.
Sandwiched between the two big players, Gators linebacker Lerentee McCray hit the passing arm of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray as he threw down field, and the ball wobbled its way into the waiting hands of Florida safety Matt Elam.
The Vols never recovered. A Tennessee offense that had moved the ball well for the first 40 minutes could do nothing right the rest of the evening. Tennessee was held to minus-8 yards on its last three possessions, and Bray ended his night with seven straight incompletions. “We fell apart,” Bray said
With their eighth straight win over the Vols, the Gators continue to distance themselves from one of their longtime rivals.
With back-to-back road wins in the conference, the Gators are trending, with SEC patsy Kentucky up next, followed by a bye week before LSU visits The Swamp on Oct. 6.
Florida opened 4-0 a season ago, but dropped five of its next six games. The Gators feel they have changed.
“This is a different 3-0,” Muschamp said.
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Written by Mackenzie Thirkill