(Saturday, September 20th)
Final Score: (4) Florida 30, Tennessee 6
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow threw for two touchdowns and Brandon James returned a punt for another, as No. 4 Florida began its SEC season with a bang by trouncing Tennessee, 30-6.
Tebow finished up with 96 yards through the air on 8-of-15 passing and added 26 yards on the ground. Percy Harvin caught two passes for 49 yards and a score, while Aaron Hernandez added another receiving touchdown. Emmanuel Moody led the Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) in rushing with 55 yards on nine carries.
"We really controlled the line of scrimmage. I think Arian Foster is one of the best backs in college football. We held him in check," said Gators head coach Urban Meyer. "We really felt they had three good running backs that we had respect for. We loaded the box pretty good. We wanted them to be one- dimensional."
Jonathan Crompton completed 18-of-28 passes for 162 yards with a pick and ran for 23 yards and the only score for Tennessee (1-2, 0-1). Foster had 37 yards on the ground on 14 carries and Gerald Jones caught five passes for 40 yards.
"It seems like we've got to learn things the hard way," said Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer "And so I think everything we do, we learn from and get better from it. We won't give up, and we have a chance to be there again. It's just a little bit harder road."
Tennessee outgained Florida 258-243, but the Vols had two crucial fumbles in the first half that allowed the Gators to storm out to an early lead, which they would not relinquish.
"It was a huge step for us," Tebow said. "For the last 12-15 years, the winner of this game has had a lot of success in the SEC, and it gives you a lot of momentum. That surge going into SEC play, you can really feed off of and get focused on and make some big plays."
Starting from the opposing 44-yard line after an excellent kickoff return, Florida methodically drove down the field, as Tebow completed a two-yard shovel pass to Hernandez on 3rd-and-goal to put the Gators up 7-0 less than five minutes in.
The Volunteers fumbled the ball away on their first drive, giving Florida the football at Tennessee's 23-yard-line. The drive stalled, but Jonathan Phillips nailed a 39-yard field goal to go up 10-0 with 7:35 left.
Tennessee managed only one first down on their next possession, punting the ball away from their own 42. James was able to take the kick from his own 22 and maneuver all the way to the end zone, putting the Gators in a commanding position, 17-0, with just under five minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Vols looked primed to score early in the second, having 2nd-and-goal on the Gators one-yard line, but Crompton fumbled the snap, allowing Florida to regain possession. The ensuing drive resulted in a Phillips 40-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining in the half.
In the waning seconds of the half, Tennessee again was inside the Gators' five, but Florida forced an interception on 4th-and-goal to keep the shutout intact.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Tebow led Florida 50 yards down the field in eight plays, culminating with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Harvin with under five minutes to go in the third.
The Volunteers finally managed to put some points on the scoreboard, as Crompton took a quarterback sneak one yard to cap a 58-yard drive, making it 27-6 less than a minute into the final quarter.
Phillips added a 27-yard field goal to cap the scoring at 30-6.
The all-time series between the two schools is tied 19-19...Florida won last year's meeting 59-20 and has won four straight meetings...Meyer is 4-0 against the Vols since taking over as Florida's head coach in 2005.
09/20 21:31:36 ET