Hendon Hooker threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another to lift No. 11 Tennessee to a 38-33 victory over No. 20 Florida on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Hooker completed 22 of 28 passes for 349 yards and rushed for 112 yards to fuel the Volunteers (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who nearly squandered an 11-point lead in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Anthony Richardson connected on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Pearsall to trim Tennessee’s lead to 38-33 with 17 seconds left. The two-point conversion attempt failed, however Florida recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Richardson, who threw for 453 yards and had four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), saw his bid for a last-gasp TD pass sail into the arms of the Volunteers’ Kamal Hadden to end the game.
Jabari Small totaled 122 yards from scrimmage (90 rushing, 32 receiving) and had a rushing and receiving touchdown for Tennessee, which snapped a five-game losing skid to Florida.
Bru McCoy reeled in five catches for 102 yards and a score for the Volunteers, who played without top wide receiver Cedric Tillman (ankle).
Justin Shorter had seven catches for 155 yards and Pearsall had five for 103 with a touchdown for the Gators (2-2, 0-2).
Florida’s 7-3 lead was short-lived as Hooker elected to keep the ball on an option for a 4-yard score on the Volunteers’ next drive.
Richardson rushed for a 7-yard touchdown on the next possession, however Hooker capped a 12-play, 99-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring strike to McCoy to give Tennessee a 17-14 lead with seven seconds to play in the second quarter.
The Volunteers continued the momentum to start the third quarter, with Small reeling in a pass and scooting just inside the pylon for a 16-yard touchdown.
Richardson and Small traded 1-yard touchdown runs for their respective teams in the third quarter before Tennessee forced a turnover in the red zone on the next possession. Jeremy Banks recovered Richardson’s fumble on the Volunteers 13-yard line with 12:34 left in the fourth.
Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright and Florida’s Montrell Johnson Jr. swapped 5-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter before Pearsall reeled in a 3-yard scoring strike with 17 seconds left.
Chase McGrath drilled a 32-yard field goal to open the scoring late in the first quarter before Florida answered on its ensuing possession.
Richardson created space within the pocket and connected with tight end Keon Zipperer, who broke an attempted tackle and ran over Trevon Flowers for a 44-yard touchdown.
–Field Level Media