September 16, 2017
The Gators are taking on the Volunteers in the home opener and Southeastern Conference debut for both teams.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The “Swamp” is alive Saturday and the No. 24 Florida Gators have a 6-3 lead over 24th-ranked Tennessee, thanks to a pair of Eddy Pineiro field goals. On both scoring drives, UF undercut itself with miscues — namely, penalties and a huge sack — and had to settle for three points and is still without an offensive touchdown this season.
Tennessee got on the board late in the second quarter when Aaron Medley nailed a 51-yard field goal at the 2:58 mark that cut UF’s six-point lead in half.
The Volunteers had a chance to tie it up on the final play of the half, but Brent Cimaglia pushed a 48-yard field goal to the left.
With redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks making his first home start, the Gators chipped away for 15-play, 65-yard drive on the opening series, converting four third-down opportunities along the way, before settling for a 27-yard field goal from Pineiro and 3-0 lead at the 7:39 mark. A 22-yard wide screen to slotback Brandon Powell got Florida into Tennessee territory, then tailback Lamical Perine barrelled for an eight yards on a third-and-3 to give the Gators a first down at the UT 15. But a delay-of-game penalty was followed by an illegal procedure penalty and put the Gators in a first-and-20 hole that Franks could not convert from.
On Tennessee’s first drive, the Vols converted a trio of third downs and worked to the UF 34, but on third-and-10 quarterback Quinten Dormady’s checkdown pass intended for tailback Ty Chandler was thrown behind the receiver and intercepted by UF linebacker David Reese.
The Gators’ other scoring drive was set up by a shanked punt that started UF at its 44. Florida worked to the UT 28, thanks to a 19-yard catch-and-run by freshman utility man Kadarius Toney, but on second-and-8, Franks was sacked for a 15-yard loss. A third-down run off a draw for 16 yards from true freshman Malik Davis put Pineiro in position to hammer home a 41-yard field goal for the 6-0 margin at the 8:11 mark of the second period.
Tennessee’s points came on a 12-play, 42-yard drive, with the key plays an 11-yard completion to Josh Palmer on a third-and-6 and 15-yard screen from Dormady to Chandler to the Florida 43.
The Vols seemed content to run out the clock after UF punted with 23 seconds to play in the half. In just trying to run out the period, Kelly broke through the UF defense for a 38-yard run to the Gators’ 36. UT crept to the Florida 29, but Cimaglia missed his attempt.
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