(Saturday, September 17th)
Final Score: (16) Florida 33, Tennessee 23
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Chris Rainey rushed 21 times for 114 yards and added two catches for 104 yards and a score as Florida took a 33-23 victory over Tennessee.
John Brantley went 14-for-23 through the air for 213 yards and two touchdowns for Florida (3-0).
Mychal Rivera, Da'Rick Rogers and Marlin Lane Jr. each caught touchdown passes for Tennessee (2-1). Rivera caught five passes for 71 yards, Rogers pulled down five passes for 62 yards and Lane added two catches for 26 yards.
Tyler Bray completed 26-of-48 passes for 288 yards and three TDs, but also tossed two interceptions.
Florida started its opening drive at its own 20 and took the drive all the way down the field for a 7-0 lead. Brantley began the drive with a screen pass that Rainey took for 21 yards.
Three more completions put the ball on Tennessee's 29-yard line before Jeff Demps ripped off a run down the right side to put the ball at the one.
Brantley capped the nine-play drive with a play-action, touchdown pass to Trey Burton.
The Volunteers countered with a long drive of their own, reaching the Gators' 20-yard line. But the drive stalled and Michael Palardy missed a 37-yard field goal wide right.
Florida marched right down the field on its ensuing drive, highlighted by a 28-yard catch by Demps and 16-yard completion to Burton. Caleb Sturgis then connected on a 28-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the first quarter to increase Florida's lead.
Tennessee was forced into a three-and-out on its next possession, and Rainey broke through the middle to block a Palardy punt. The ball was recovered on the Volunteer's 13-yard line, but Tennessee's defense held up to force a Sturgis 30-yard field goal and make it a 13-0 game early in the second.
A Rainey 13-yard punt return on a Palardy punt from his own endzone led to a Sturgis 46-yard field goal, extending the Gators' advantage.
The Volunteers were able to get on the board late in the half. Tennessee started a drive at its own 11 with 3:58 left in the second. Florida was called for defensive pass interference on the second play of the drive and Bray then made completions of 22 and 20 yards to Rogers and Rivera, respectively.
Another Florida pass interference penalty placed the ball on the eight-yard line before Lane broke wide open on the right side for a score with 1:43 left in the second to make it a 16-7 contest.
On the first play of the second half, Josh Evans intercepted Bray's pass at the Tennessee 42-yard line. A 14-yard run by Rainey and a 12-yard catch by Burton set up Burton's scoring run on a fourth and goal at the one.
Florida stopped Tennessee again on defense, leading to an 83-yard catch and run for a score by Rainey to make it 30-7.
"I don't know if there is a more versatile player. He comes to work every day. He works awfully hard, playing football," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said about Rainey. "He's a guy that's an example of what you want as a player and competitor, as far as I am concerned."
The Volunteer's were forced to punt again, but Demps fumbled the ball on the Gators' first play of their possession. Austin Johnson recovered the loose ball and rumbled to Florida's 17.
Bray then hit Rogers on a 14-yard TD pass, but Tennessee was stopped on its two-point conversion attempt to make it 30-13 with under five minutes in the third.
The Gators were held on their next drive and David Lerner shanked a 22-yard punt from his own nine-yard line to give Tennessee great field position.
Bray was intercepted on the drive, but the pick was negated on a pass interference call on Marcus Roberson, which allowed him to make the interception. The drive carried into the fourth quarter, where Palardy nailed a 20-yard field goal.
Florida answered with a 12-play drive, lasting over six minutes and resulting in a Sturgis 42-yard field goal.
"We inched back and cut it to 10 points. We just needed to get a stop and get the ball back, but we can't stop them. They drive the ball down for a six- minute drive and kick a field goal," said Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
Lane took the next kickoff up to his own 40, and Bray picked his way down the field with double-digit completions to DeAnthony Arnett and Matt Milton before hitting Rivera on an 18-yard TD pass to bring the Volunteers closer with a score of 33-23 with 4:46 remaining in the game.
Tennessee forced a three-and-out from the Gators and got the ball back with 3:44 to go. On fourth and 16, Roberson was again called for pass interference to keep the Volunteers' drive alive.
But Bray was picked off by Matt Elam on a pass overthrown over the middle to seal the victory for Florida.
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter left the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury...Florida was called for pass interference seven times in the game...Tennessee finished the game with minus-nine yards rushing...Florida rushed for 134 yards.
09/17 22:37:42 ET