Brandon Powell

Associated Press

Last second Hail Mary lifts No. 24 Florida past No. 23 Tennessee

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A defensive struggle turned into anything but, as a 63-yard rainbow from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired lifted No. 24 Florida to a 26-20 win over No. 23 Tennessee. The win is Florida’s (1-1, 1-0 SEC) 12th win over Tennessee (2-1, 0-1 SEC) in their last 13 meetings.

After Florida took a 6-3 lead into the locker roomC.J. Henderson gave Florida complete control when he snared a tipped Quentin Dormady pass and returned it an easy 16 yards for a touchdown, Florida’s third pick-six of the season — which, to that point, accounted for the Gators’ only touchdowns of the season.

Malik Davis briefly put the offense on the board when he streaked 74 yards down the left side of the field to give the Gators a 20-3 lead with 10:45 remaining in the game. But Davis lost the ball out of the back of the end zone as he crossed the goal line, and the touchdown was turned into a touchback upon review.

Given new life, Tennessee made the most of its extra chance, racing 80 yards in five plays, mostly on the legs of John Kelly, including a 34-yard burst that pulled the Vols to within 13-10 with 8:36 remaining. Kelly celebrated the score with a defiant Gator chomp in the end zone, which rewarded by the officials with an excessive celebration flag.

Tyrie Cleveland returned the ensuing short kickoff 46 yards to the Tennessee 44, sparking the Gators to a 7-play, 44-yard drive that ended in the club’s first offensive touchdown of the season, a 5-yard toss from Feleipe Franks to Brandon Powell with 5:13 to play.

Ignited by their previous touchdown drive — and aided by a winded Florida defense — Tennessee needed only two snaps to move 75 yards for another touchdown. A 52-yard catch-and-run by Kelly set up a 28-yard touchdown pass from Dormady to tight end Ethan Wolf to pull the Vols within 20-17 with 4:43 to play.

Two snaps after that, Tennessee’s defense returned the favor as Rashaan Gaulden snared a tipped Franks pass at the Florida 40. The Vols moved the ball 31 yards to the Florida 9-yard line, but the drive stalled there and Aaron Medley knocked in a 27-yard field goal to tie the game with 50 seconds to play. Medley’s boot also ended a streak of three consecutive missed field goals by he and Brent Cimaglia.

Florida appeared content to sit on the ball until overtime, but Jim McElwain called timeout with nine seconds remaining at his own 37. After scrambling in his own backfield, Franks raced toward the line of scrimmage and threw it as far as he could, where the ball found Cleveland, unmolested in the end zone. He would not be touched until he was mauled by his celebrating teammates.

Franks finished the game 18-of-28 for 212 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Davis led the Gators with 94 yards on four carries. Dormady hit 21-of-39 passes for 259 yards with a touchdown and three interception, and Kelly led both teams on the ground and through the air, rushing 19 times for 141 yards and a touchdown and catching six balls for 96 yards.

 

SEC overturns Florida WR Brandon Powell’s half-game suspension for phantom punch

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Fortunately for both Brandon Powell and Florida, common sense in the league office prevailed.

In the fourth quarter of UF’s loss to Tennessee, Powell was flagged for an unsportsmanlike call and ejected from the game for seemingly throwing a punch at a Vols player.  Because of SEC rules, Powell was also set to be suspended from the first half of this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.

The conference, however, overturned the suspension upon review, no doubt determining that Vols safety Rashaan Gaulden performed a flop of such magnitude that it would’ve made an international soccer star stand up and cheer, then bow down and claim they’re not worthy.

We’ve received word that he’ll go,” head coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “Nothing from there, so he was full go from Monday afternoon on.”

Powell is currently second on the team with 15 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 14 Tennessee scores 38 straight to snap losing streak to No. 19 Florida

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No. 14 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) brought an end to an 11-game losing streak to No. 19 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) in resounding fashion Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium. Down 21-0 in the first half, Tennessee roared back with 38 straight points en route to a wild 38-28 victory in a key SEC East battle.

The phrase “tale of two halves” gets thrown around a lot, sometimes more than necessary, but there was simply no way to describe what just happened in a checkered-out Neyland Stadium. The Vols looked lost and sloppy in the first half of the game, shooting themselves in the feet twice inside the Florida 10-yard line with nothing to show for it. But the second half was a reversal of fortune, as the Vols defense started getting off the field quickly and the offense started clicking. Joshua Dobbs shrugged off an awful first half and came back to lead the charge with four touchdown passes in the second half, and one more on the ground just for good measure. Dobbs was Tennessee’s second-leading rusher (behind Jalen Hurd) on top of passing for over 300 yards against the Gators.

Tennessee took the lead on a play that appeared to be eerily similar to a key play from a year ago. Dobbs found a wide-open Jauan Jennings down the right side of the field for an easy touchdown. The score gave the Vols the lead. It was a long passing play last season that saw Florida take the lead on the Vols when it appeared a victory was in hand for Tennessee.

The Vols tacked on more to put the game in he win column, of course. The defense picked off a pass from Austin Appleby on Florida’s first play of the ensuing drive and that was quickly turned into a touchdown. Florida then had to punt after three plays on the next drive, and the Vols scored four plays later. The momentum had swung back to Tennessee and never returned to the Gators’ sideline, even after a 16-play touchdown drive. Nothing was stopping Tennessee at this point, as Florida’s frustration boiled over so much, Brandon Powell was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for throwing a punch.

Trying to figure out what this means for Tennessee going forward is a bit of a tricky proposition. That is because you just don’t really know which Tennessee was closer to the real Tennessee. The SEC East is most definitely their’s to take this year, with a head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida in the fold and Georgia looking abysmal on the road earlier in the day in a blowout loss at Ole Miss. Tennessee will get a chance to seize complete control of the division next week when they head to Athens to take on those Georgia Bulldogs. A win there and the SEC East crown should be pretty easy to claim, although the Vols still have a road trip to Texas A&M and a home game against Alabama  after that Georgia game, so there is no easy path to the SEC East just yet.

And with a challenging schedule ahead of them in conference play the next few weeks, Florida is not out of the picture just yet. The Gators get no easy games with LSU and Arkansas in cross-division play, but a game at Vanderbilt next week offers a chance to bounce back before hosting LSU and Missouri and then taking on Georgia in Jacksonville. Florida can remain in the hunt, but the margin for error has been reduced as a result of this one.

Butch Jones explains why Tennessee went for one instead of two

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With his Vols up by six points, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones opted to go for one point instead of attempt a two-point conversion attempt after a third quarter touchdown extended the lead to 12. Tennessee got the extra point, but ended up losing to the Florida Gators by one. After the loss, Tennessee’s 11th straight against Florida, Jones was left with some questions to answer regarding his coaching decisions.

For starters, why the heck didn’t you go for two?

“Well a number of reasons and we were discussing that prior to the drive. If we did score whether we go for one or two, we have a chart that is pretty standard in football first of all and maps it all,” Jones explained, seemingly admitting he chose to ignore the chart he made sure to mention. “We just felt like at that stage in the game that we had great confidence in our defense of getting off the football field and allowing them to push the ball down the field so we felt very comfortable with the decision.”

Rule number one: When you lose to one school for 10 straight years, you never trust your defense with a quarter and a half to play to hold a 13-point lead.

Rule number two: Two weeks after experiencing the agony of defeat when victory was seemingly knotted up, you never trust your defense to hold a 13-point lead.

Rule number three: If you have a chart that tells you when to go for two points in your hands on the sideline, you follow the darn chart!

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs shared his thoughts on whether it was good enough to go for one point after that touchdown.

“No, when you come on the road in the SEC the game’s never over,” Dobbs said.

Jones was also forced to address another questionable coaching decision that came back to haunt him earlier in the third quarter. Florida was in a fourth down situation (4th and 6 from the Tennessee 25-yard line) and took the field looking to line up in a field goal formation. Jones chose to burn one of his timeouts, fearing the Gators had a trick play in the works. Florida came out of the timeout with its offense and Will Grier completed a pass to Brandon Powell for a 21-yard gain and the Gators scored a touchdown on the next play.

Did Jones give his counterpart on the other sideline, Jim McElwain, time to rethink the decision to kick a field goal? McElwian did not admit to having a trick play ready, so it is difficult to say whether or not the Vols made the right call taking the timeout.

“We thought they were going to do a fake field goal so that is the one time that we did it,” Jones said after the game. “Another time is making sure we had the right personnel on the field in some different things we had seen from scouting.”

Jones may be a fine coach, but yesterday proved he is certainly not exempt from the trend of coaches out-thinking themselves in critical situations. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution.