Tennessee Athletics Department
Knoxville, TN – No. 14/12 Tennessee scored 38-straight points, Joshua Dobbs was responsible for five touchdowns and the Vols roared back in the second half to take a 38-28 victory over No. 19/16 Florida.
Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) trailed 21-0 in the second quarter and 21-3 at the half. After Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) had outgained UT 300-162 in the first half, the Vols dominated the second half with 336 yards to the Gators’ 102. Derek Barnett sparked the defense in the second half with a pair of sacks on key third downs.
With the win, Tennessee snapped an 11-game losing streak against Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC). The Vols also earned their first win in its SEC opener since 2004 when they also defeated the Gators 30-28 to begin the conference schedule.UT is on a 10-game winning streak, dating back to 2015, which is the third-longest in the nation.
Dobbs completed 16-of-32 passes for 319 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions and also rushed for 80 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Jalen Hurd gained 95 yards on 26 carries.
Florida quarterback Austin Appleby finished 23-of-29 for 296 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Tennessee defense limited the Gators’ vaunted rushing attack to 106 yards on 31 carries (3.4-yard average).
Florida wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. On the game’s opening drive, the Gators went 75 yards down the field in five plays and scored on a three-yard pass from Appleby to DeAndre Goolsby.
The Vols punted after crossing midfield on their opening possession and Dillon Bates dove on a loose ball on the UF 2-yard line ball following a muff by Florida’s Antonio Callaway. The Gators’ goal-line defense prevented UT from scoring on the ensuing possesion.
Tennessee’s special teams controlled field position early as punter Trevor Daniel pinned the Gators inside the 10-yard line three times in the fourth quarter.
Florida’s lead grew to 14-0 in the second quarter when Appleby wrapped an eight-play, 93-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cronkrite down the left side.
With a one-yard touchdown run by Jordan Scarlett with 5:12 left in the second quarter, the Gators extended their lead to 21-0.
Aaron Medley capped a nine-play, 65-yard Tennessee drive with a 28-yard field goal with 2:39 remaining in the first half and the Vols went into halftime down 21-3.
After a strong defensive stand in Florida territory late in the third quarter, Dobbs directed a three-play 51 yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Wolf in the middle of the end zone. After an extra point, the Vols cut the UF lead to 21-17.
Dobbs ignited the home crowd when he found Jennings down he right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown pass with 12:45 remaining and the Vols pulled in front, 24-21. The play tied Dobbs’ 67-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone against Appalachian State for UT’s longest of the year.
After a big third-down interception by Todd Kelly Jr. gave Tennessee the ball at Florida’s 42-yard line, Dobbs connected with Malone down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown strike to push the Vols’ lead to 31-21.
The Vols ran the ball four-straight times and Dobbs crossed the goal line with a five-yard run to give UT a 38-21 advantage with 8:27 remaining.
Appleby threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Swain with 4:17 left in the game for Florida’s first points since the 5:12 mark of the second quarter.
Tennessee’s win following a 21-0 second-quarter deficit ties for the third-biggest comeback in Tennessee history. In 2015, the Vols rallied back from a 24-3 deficit in the second quarter of UT’s thrilling 38-31 win over Georgia.
Kelly With The Pick
Todd Kelly Jr. came up with a big interception early in the fourth quarter to halt a Florida drive at the Gators’ 42. The interception was the seventh of Kelly’s career, tying him with Cameron Sutton for most on the current team.
Barnett The Sack Master
Derek Barnett recorded the 21st sack of his career, bringing Appleby down for a one-yard sack late in the third quarter on a 3rd-and-10.
Barnett made the 22nd sack of his career in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-6 at the UF 24 to force a sack. He is half of a sack back of Todd Kelly (22.5, 1989-92) and fourth place.
The boisterous home crowd at Neyland Stadium contributed to four positive plays for Tennessee, including one delay of game and two early Florida timeouts in the first half and one false start in the third quarter.
Tennessee will play its first road contest of the season on October 1st when the Vols take on Georgia at Sanford Stadium. The game will have 3:30pm broadcast on CBS. `