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Emory Jones comes up big, No. 11 Gators rout Tennessee again

Emory Jones comes up big, No. 11 Gators rout Tennessee again
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Emory Jones had two touchdown passes to go with a career-high 144 yards rushing, leading No. 11 Florida to a 38-14 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night and extending nearly two decades of dominance in the series.

The Gators (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) won their fifth straight and 16th in 17 years in a series that used to go a long way toward deciding the Eastern Division. First-year Tennessee coach Josh Heupel is trying to get it back there.

The second half showed he’s still got a way to go. The Gators, who bounced back from a gut-wrenching loss against top-ranked Alabama in the Swamp a week ago, scored on consecutive drives in the third quarter to turn a three-point game into comfortable lead. Jones was at his best during those possessions.

With dynamic backup Anthony Richardson still nursing a strained right hamstring, Jones completed three straight passes that set up a trick-play touchdown. Jones lateraled to Trent Whittemore, who found Kemore Gamble in the end zone for a 13-yard score. It was Florida’s first trick-play TD in three years.

Jones ran for 43 yards on Florida’s next drive and capped it with a 9-yard TD pass to Rick Wells.

Jones completed 21 of 27 passes for 209 yards on the night and ran 15 times, with a long of 49 yards. He became Florida’s first QB to top 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing since Tim Tebow in 2009 against Florida State. Tebow accomplished the feat four times in four seasons.

It was the first time Jones didn’t have a turnover this season.

The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) played much better in the first half, with Herndon Hooker and a big-play offense keeping the Gators off-balance. Hooker connected with Tiyon Evans for a 47-yard score and with JaVonta Payton on a 75-yarder.

But Hooker was mostly ineffective the rest of the way. He was sacked early in the fourth and knocked out of the game. He tried to leave the field without any assistance after trainers helped him up, but he dropped back to his knees before reaching the sideline. Joe Milton replaced him.

Hooker completed 13 of 23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He and the Vols seemed rattled several times by the crowd of 88,478.

Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) tries to get past Tennessee defensive back Jaylen McCollough, left, during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla.

Florida, which entered the game as the No. 2 rushing team in the country, finished with 283 yards on the ground. Coach Dan Mullen had his most balanced attack of the season, with 222 yards passing and 505 yards total.

Tennessee came into the game allowing just 54.3 yards rushing a game. Florida topped that in the first quarter.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tennessee: The Volunteers appear headed in the right direction under Heupel. His up-tempo offense posed problems for the Gators early, and Tennessee had a chance to tie or take the lead just before halftime. Being close is progress for a program that lost the last three meetings by a combined score of 112-46.

Florida: The Gators gave up too many big plays early. If they’re going to run the table in the SEC and get back to the league title game, they’re going to have to shore up that part of their defense. Getting standout cornerback Kaiir Elam back would be a start.
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