Gators rally past Vols, ‘over’ hits

True freshman WR Antonio Callaway's incredible catch and run lifted the Gators to an 11th straight win over Tennessee.

True freshman WR Antonio Callaway’s incredible catch and run lifted the Gators to an 11th straight win over Tennessee.

Published on Monday, 9/28/15, at 11:58 p.m. Eastern.

Tennessee led Florida 27-14 midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s SEC showdown at The Swamp. The Volunteers appeared poised to snap UF’s 10-year winning streak in this bitter rivalry, just as they seemed ready to do with a 9-0 advantage early in the fourth quarter of last year’s meeting at Neyland Stadium.

But nothing comes easy for UT against UF. Butch Jones didn’t help his team’s cause, inexplicably deciding against going for two when the Vols went ahead 26-14 with 10:19 remaining. The incomprehensible move would come back to haunt him and could be the turning point in his relationship with UT’s passionate fan base.

When asked about the decision at his postgame presser, Jones said, “We had great confidence in our defense. We felt very comfortable with our decision.”

Believe me, Butch, the orange and blue faithful were completely comfortable with it, too.

What an idiot!

Trailing by 13, Florida mounted a crucial drive highlighted by a pair of fourth-down conversions. Will Grier’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell sliced the deficit to 27-21. After forcing a punt, the Gators took over with 2:18 left at their own 41.

Three plays later, UF faced a fourth-and-14 situation with the game on the line. UT elected not to blitz. Therefore, Grier had enough time for his receiver to make a double move, and the redshirt freshman QB hit true freshman WR Antonio Callaway. The Miami Booker T. Washington High School product mad the reception, cut to the sideline, got a great crack-back block from Powell and dashed to the end zone.

The 63-yard scoring strike and subsequent PAT gave UF a 28-27 lead. UT got a quality kick return and rapidly moved into UF territory. But Jones allowed valuable time to drip from the clock while deciding (wrongly, once again) to hold on to his final timeout.

With three seconds remaining, a 55-yard field goal try was just barely wide right. It’s a huge win for the Gators and Jim McElwain but more than anything, it’s a crushing loss for Jones, the Vols and their tortured fan base.

Florida hadn’t pulled off an epic comeback at home like this since Kerwin Bell rallied the Gators to an 18-17 win over Auburn after entering the game with an injured knee in the fourth quarter of the 1986 meeting.

Gamblers on the ‘under’ (48 or 48.5) were left with a brutal setback. If not for five fourth-down conversions by UF, these bettors would have settled for no worse than a push.

Next for UF, it gets Ole Miss on Saturday night at The Swamp. As of late Monday night, the Rebels were 7.5-point road favorites.

Meanwhile, Tennessee will try to turn the page before taking on Arkansas in Knoxville. And one has to wonder if Jones is long for Knoxville and if he’ll ever be able to beat The Mighty Gators.

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