July 14, 2024

Vols overcome 21-point first half deficit to stun Florida

The Tennessee Volunteers finally overcame their arch nemesis and topped the Florida Gators, 38-28, in a three-touchdown deficit comeback victory.

Tennessee fans wore white or orange shirts to "Checker" Neyland Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016 in a game against the Florida Gators. Photo by Sumner Gilliam.

The No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers rallied from a three-touchdown, first-half deficit top the No. 19 Florida Gators, 38-28, for the first time since 2004, at Neyland Stadium Saturday evening.

Early on, the Gators controlled every aspect of the game. Florida backup quarterback Austin Appleby completed a number of deep passes in the first half to wide receiver Antonio Callaway, setting up early Gator touchdowns. The first touchdown came on a three-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone to DeAndre Goolsby. In the second quarter, Florida added two more touchdowns on a Jordan Cronkrite 15-yard touchdown reception and a one-yard run by Jordan Scarlett.

The Vols had two golden opportunities to put points on the board, but failed. After Callaway muffed a punt inside the five-yard line in the first quarter, Tennessee was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and eventually turned the ball over on downs. In the second quarter, again inside the five-yard line, quarterback Joshua Dobbs threw an interception in the end zone. As a result, the Vols entered halftime trailing 21-3.

However, in the second half, Dobbs and the offense came alive, scoring 35 unanswered points. Against one of the nation’s top secondaries, Dobbs connected on four touchdown passes of at least 20 yards in the second half — connecting on scores to Jalen Hurd for 23 yards, Ethan Wolfe for 20 yards, Jujan Jennings for 67 yards and Josh Malone for 42 yards. Dobbs also collected a touchdown on the ground. Dobbs finished the evening with 319 yards passing and 80 yards rushing with five total touchdowns.

With the win, Tennessee ends an 11-game losing streak to Florida, but more importantly, gains a crucial victory in the SEC East race. They take on Georgia next week at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Sumner Gilliam