(Photo credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports)
Trevor Etienne rushed for a career-high 172 yards and Florida rattled off 26 unanswered points in the first half to upset No. 11 Tennessee, 29-16 in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday night.
Graham Mertz threw for 166 yards and a touchdown for the Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC), who trailed 7-0 early in the first quarter. Montrell Johnson Jr. scored two touchdowns.
The win was Florida's 10th straight at home in the series vs. the Vols. A scuffle broke out just before the final buzzer when Mertz was run into by a Tennessee player after taking a knee. Benches cleared and punches were thrown before order was restored and the final play was run.
Joe Milton III threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing for the Volunteers (2-1, 0-1), who were 5-point favorites on the road. He threw an interception. Bru McCoy caught five passes for 94 yards and a score.
Tennessee led 7-0 after Milton found Ramel Keyton for an 11-yard TD pass with 5:33 left in the opening quarter.
But the Gators answered right back on Etienne's 62-yard rushing TD on the following possession. Adam Mihalek's PAT was blocked, however.
Johnson scored from 4 yards out at 9:28 in the second quarter for a 12-7 lead after a failed 2-point try. Mertz rushed in for a 1-yard score at 7:20 and then connected with Johnson for an 18-yard scoring strike at 2:22 to give Florida a 26-7 lead at the half.
Mertz's rushing TD was set up by Devin Moore's interception of Milton, which he returned to the Tennessee 18. An unsportsmanlike penalty set up the Gators with first-and-goal.
The Vols finished with 10 penalties for 79 yards.
Charles Campbell's 26-yard field goal provided the only scoring in the third quarter, cutting the Gators' lead to 26-10.
Trey Smack replied with a 27-yarder at 9:55 in the fourth quarter for the Gators before Milton found McCoy for a 55-yard TD pass with 8:41 remaining.
But Tennessee turned it over on downs at the Florida 25 with 2:31 remaining.
--Field Level Media