GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Billy Napier navigated a sea of relatives, friends and admirers waiting around to congratulate him on his most significant victory as Florida’s head coach. He shook arms, doled out hugs and even posed for photographs.
He was in no hurry to get by means of the adulation, either.
“We’ll rejoice tonight, I promise you,” Napier reported.
Trevor Etienne ran for a occupation-large 172 yards and a touchdown, 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 first in a rivalry for Napier, who last 12 months turned the very first mentor in school history to get rid of to Tennessee, LSU, Ga and Florida Point out in the very same period. Obtaining that preliminary 1 under his belt must quell outside sound about Napier’s prolonged-term viability with the Gators (2-1, 1- Southeastern Conference).
“It validates your prepare, what you are promoting to a degree,” Napier stated. “That’s what you want as a leader. … Which is a good deal extra enjoyable.”
For the Volunteers, the 550-mile vacation from Knoxville ended a lot like all the many others about the final two decades: in heartache. Tennessee last won at the Swamp in 2003. The skid started with Phillip Fulmer and spans the Tennessee coaching tenures of Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, Jeremy Pruitt and now Josh Heupel.
Tennessee (2-1, -1) seemed like it experienced as fantastic a probability as any to conclude its street drought in the collection — the Vols have been 6 1/2-position favorites, in accordance to FanDuel Sportsbook — but quarterback Joe Milton and his offensive line appeared missing at moments just hoping to get performs commenced.
The Vols, who now have dropped 17 of 19 in the sequence, were being flagged for 5 phony begins and had to burn off two timeouts early in the next 50 percent to steer clear of hold off-of-sport penalties.
“The pre-snap penalties killed us,” Heupel explained.
The crowd noise may perhaps have even afflicted the refs, who seemingly erred by permitting Florida to substitute just before Tennessee’s fourth-and-1 participate in in the 3rd quarter. Scooby Williams stuffed Jaylen Wright in the backfield to bring about a turnover on downs.
“The official kicked or moved the ball and re-noticed it,” Heupel reported. “They authorized the substitution. Been a long time due to the fact I have witnessed an official kick a ball.”
The Vols failed all over again on fourth down on their subsequent drive, with Milton throwing incomplete to finish it. Tennessee concluded the night for 3 on fourth down.
Graham Mertz and Florida have been considerably extra cozy in front of 90,751, the 12th-greatest group at Florida Area.
“Man, it bought loud,” Mertz claimed. “I was on the sideline and I couldn’t listen to my coach (standing) in front of me. It obtained rocking. … They genuinely influenced the activity.”
Mertz accomplished 19 of 24 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also juked a defender on a 3rd-down engage in and afterwards ran for a rating. Etienne broke a 62-lawn TD scamper in the initial quarter. Johnson experienced a brief scoring operate and an 18-yard TD reception that created it 26-7 in the 2nd.
“There were a whole lot of errors on our conclusion,” Vols linebacker Aaron Beasley stated. “We were being undisciplined on our part. We misfit a ton of points.”
A crucial error down the extend for Tennessee: Primary 29-16, Florida lined up to go for it on fourth and 1 at its have 34. But Kurott Garland jumped offsides, handing the Gators a 1st down and prompting Napier to increase both arms in celebration.
Two points went improper for Florida: freshman receiver Tre Wilson, who caught Mertz’s initially 6 passes, bruised his collarbone and was on the sideline in sling in the second half, and kicker Adam Mihalek was way quick on a 46-property field goal early and had an extra level blocked.
Napier benched Mihalek in favor or Trey Smack, who hit both equally added points and drilled a 26-garden industry purpose to give Florida a tiny cushion.
The game finished with a scuffle and penalty flags on both teams. Mertz took a knee and then took exception to defensive lineman Omari Thomas managing into him. Benches cleared, and Tennessee defensive back again Kamal Hadden and Florida guard Micah Mazzccua squared off like boxers. Mazzccua evidently threw a punch. Florida correct tackle Damieon George was originally flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Thomas for targeting. But neither flag was enforced.
“That was just the weirdest ending to a game I’ve ever had,” Mertz explained. “I guess that’s Florida-Tennesse.”
Heupel and Napier had an icy handshake at midfield in advance of the groups experienced to return to the discipline for 1 ultimate perform.
“Do we want to be composed in that problem and all circumstances? Totally,” Heupel reported. “Their male is dancing, and you have to go deal with him.”
Tennessee: The Volunteers outgained Florida 393-349 in yards, but Milton threw an interception in the very first 50 percent — his to start with in 250 pass attempts at Tennessee — and by no means found a rhythm. He finished 20 of 34 passes for 287 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He also recovered his have fumble.
Florida: The Gators have rebounded nicely from an mistake-crammed opener at then-No. 14 Utah. They manhandled McNeese final week and defeat Tennessee to give them selves a possibility in the Eastern Division.
The Volunteers are absolutely sure to fall in the next Related Press Leading 25 college or university soccer poll, which will be released Sunday.
UP Up coming
Tennessee: Hosts University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) next Saturday.
Florida: Hosts Charlotte subsequent Saturday.
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