Tyler Murphy backed up an injured Jeff Driskel, throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score Saturday to help No. 19 Florida continue its mastery of Tennessee with a 31-17 win.
Murphy, a redshirt junior, saw extensive action following the first-quarter injury to Driskel, who will miss the rest of the season. Driskel will need surgery after fracturing the fibula in his right leg.
Murphy finished 8-of-14 for 134 yards, 52 coming on a scoring strike to Solomon Patton. He added 84 rushing yards on 10 carries for Florida (2-1, 1-0 SEC), which has beaten Tennessee nine consecutive times -- the Gators' longest winning streak in the history of the series.
"Injuries are a part of the game and it's unfortunate that Jeff Driskel will be out for the season. He's going to have surgery on his lower leg tomorrow," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "I'm disappointed for Jeff because he's worked extremely hard for this season. One man's misfortunes are another man's opportunities; Tyler Murphy certainly took advantage of this opportunity. We are very proud of him."
The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) sputtered offensively while redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman was in the game. They turned the ball over on each of their first three drives, and Peterman's day was done following a second interception in the second quarter.
Peterman had only five yards on 4-of-11 passing before being replaced by junior Justin Worley late in the first half. Worley connected on 10-of-23 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
"First and foremost, you can't turn the football over. We had way too many turnovers," said Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
The Gators were just as sloppy with the ball in the first half, committing three turnovers, one of which resulted in the loss of Driskel and Tennessee taking a 7-0 lead.
Driskel was under pressure as defensive lineman Marlon Walls came from behind and wrapped up him just as he got a throw away. Driskel's leg was rolled on by Walls as the two went to the ground.
Defensive back Devaun Swafford picked off the pass and raced down the right sideline unimpeded for a 62-yard touchdown.
After a Florida punt, Dante Fowler, Jr. forced his second fumble on a sack of Peterman. Michael Taylor recovered for the Gators, but the Tennessee defense held Florida to a 23-yard Austin Hardin field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Peterman had a pass tipped and intercepted by Brian Poole. On the second play of the ensuing drive, a block by Trey Burton sprung Patton for his jaunt to the end zone after catching a short toss from Murphy.
The Gators padded their lead after Peterman had the ball slip out of his hand and land in the arms of Darious Cummings, who was tripped up by a teammate following a 30-yard return to the Tennessee 40.
A 3-yard TD run by Mack Brown made it 17-7 with 37 seconds to go before the break.
"In the first quarter or first half, we were never able to get in any type of rhythm offensively, and against a defense like that, you have to get into a rhythm," Jones said. "You have to generate first downs and keep moving the chains, and obviously we weren't able to do that."
The Volunteers started the second half on a positive note, with a 27-yard completion from Worley to Alton Howard on a wheel route to set up Michael Palardy's 44-yard field goal.
Florida, though, countered with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a short touchdown run by Matt Jones.
Murphy ran for a 7-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw in the early stages of the fourth quarter to put the Gators up 31-10, but Worley answered with a TD pass to Howard on Tennessee's next possession.
The Volunteers' final three touches featured two Worley interceptions sandwiched around a turnover on downs at the Florida 23 after Hardin missed a 41-yard field goal.
Florida has won nine straight SEC openers ... Tennessee has lost 18 games in a row to ranked teams and nine consecutive road conference games ... Poole was ejected in the fourth quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit ... Brown had 86 yards on 24 carries.