GAINESVILLE, Fla. — – Billy Napier navigated a sea of household, associates and followers ready to congratulate him on his most important victory as Florida’s head coach. He shook fingers, doled out hugs and even posed for footage.
He was in no hurry to get by way of the adulation, both.
“We’ll rejoice tonight, I promise you,” Napier stated.
Trevor Etienne ran for a career-high 172 yards and a landing, Montrell Johnson scored twice and Florida upset No. 11 Tennessee 29-16 on Saturday night time to increase the Volunteers’ shedding streak in Gainesville to 10.
The victory was the primary in a rivalry for Napier, who final 12 months turned the primary coach in class historical past to lose to Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Florida State in the identical season. Getting that preliminary one underneath his belt ought to quell exterior noise about Napier’s long-term viability with the Gators (2-1, 1-0 Southeastern Convention).
“It validates your plan, what you are promoting to a level,” Napier stated. “That is what you need as a pacesetter. … That is much more enjoyable.”
For the Volunteers, the 550-mile journey from Knoxville ended very similar to all of the others during the last twenty years: in heartache. Tennessee final received on the Swamp in 2003. The skid began with Phillip Fulmer and spans the Tennessee teaching tenures of Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, Jeremy Pruitt and now Josh Heupel.
Tennessee (2-1, 0-1) appeared prefer it had nearly as good an opportunity as any to finish its highway drought within the collection – the Vols had been 6 1/2-point favorites.- however quarterback Joe Milton and his offensive line appeared misplaced at occasions simply attempting to get performs began.
The Vols, who now have dropped 17 of 19 within the collection, had been flagged for 5 false begins and needed to burn two timeouts early within the second half to keep away from delay-of-game penalties.
“The pre-snap penalties killed us,” Heupel stated.
The group noise might have even affected the refs, who seemingly erred by permitting Florida to substitute earlier than Tennessee’s fourth-and-1 play within the third quarter. Scooby Williams stuffed Jaylen Wright within the backfield to trigger a turnover on downs.
“The official kicked or moved the ball and re-spotted it,” Heupel stated. “They allowed the substitution. Been a very long time since I’ve seen an official kick a ball.”
The Vols failed once more on fourth down on their subsequent drive, with Milton throwing incomplete to finish it. Tennessee completed the night time 0 for 3 on fourth down.
Graham Mertz and Florida had been rather more comfy in entrance of 90,751, the Twelfth-largest crowd at Florida Discipline.
“Man, it obtained loud,” Mertz stated. “I used to be on the sideline and I could not hear my coach (standing) in entrance of me. It obtained rocking. … They really affected the sport.”
Mertz accomplished 19 of 24 passes for 166 yards and a landing. He additionally juked a defender on a third-down play and later ran for a rating. Etienne broke a 62-yard TD scamper within the first quarter. Johnson had a brief scoring run and an 18-yard TD reception that made it 26-7 within the second.
“There have been loads of errors on our finish,” Vols linebacker Aaron Beasley stated. “We had been undisciplined on our half. We misfit loads of issues.”
A key error down the stretch for Tennessee: Main 29-16, Florida lined as much as go for it on fourth and 1 at its personal 34. However Kurott Garland jumped offsides, handing the Gators a primary down and prompting Napier to boost each arms in celebration.
Two issues went incorrect for Florida: freshman receiver Tre Wilson, who caught Mertz’s first six passes, bruised his collarbone and was on the sideline in sling within the second half, and kicker Adam Mihalek was method quick on a 46-yard area purpose early and had an additional level blocked.
Napier benched Mihalek in favor or Trey Smack, who hit each additional factors and drilled a 26-yard area purpose to provide Florida somewhat cushion.
Tennessee: The Volunteers outgained Florida 393-349 in yards, however Milton threw an interception within the first half – his first in 250 go makes an attempt at Tennessee – and by no means discovered a rhythm. He accomplished 20 of 34 passes for 287 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He additionally recovered his personal fumble.
Florida: The Gators have rebounded properly from an error-filled opener at then-No. 14 Utah. They manhandled McNeese final week and beat Tennessee to provide themselves an opportunity within the Japanese Division.
The Volunteers are positive to drop within the subsequent Related Press Prime 25 faculty soccer ballot, which shall be launched Sunday.
Tennessee: Hosts College of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) subsequent Saturday.
Florida: Hosts Charlotte subsequent Saturday.