Hooker Sparks No. 11 Tennessee Over No. 20 Florida, 38–33

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Hendon Hooker threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 112 yards and a score to lead No. 11 Tennessee to a 38–33 victory over No. 20 Florida Saturday.

It was Tennessee’s second win over Florida in the last 18 meetings and snapped a six-game losing streak in the series. The win gave the Volunteers their first 4–0 start since 2016.

Tennessee (4–0, 1–0 Southeastern Conference) took control in the fourth quarter when it traveled 87 yards for a TD after a fumble by Gators (2–2, 0–2) quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Richardson had a career-high 453 passing yards and two touchdowns and ran for 62 and two scores in a raucous Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee led 17–14 at halftime following a first half loaded with big offensive plays on both sides.

Hooker, who shook off what was reported as an upper body injury, threw for 248 yards, including a 70-yard connection with Bru McCoy for the Vols’ longest play from scrimmage this season.

Epoch Times Photo
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) leaps over the goal line for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida in Knoxville, Tenn., Sept. 24, 2022. (Wade Payne/AP Photo)

A 99-yard drive that ended with a one-yard pass from Hooker to McCoy, gave Tennessee the lead 7 seconds before the break.

Richardson had a career-high 220 passing yards by intermission and connected with his first TD pass of the season. Keon Zipperer broke three arm tackles on his way to a 44-yard score.

Missing (Or Not) In Action

The left leg injury that forced Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman to miss a good deal of the Akron game caused him to be held out.

Vols WR Jimmy Calloway couldn’t play in the first half against the Gators because of a team suspension after being ejected last week for punching an Akron player.

Florida OT Michael Tarquin (lower leg injury) and long snapper Marco Ortiz did not play. ….LB Ventrell Miller, who missed last week’s game with a right foot injury, started.

Facts & Figures

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker had a string of 14 consecutive pass completions, including 12 against Akron, before a misfire. …In back-to-back second-quarter plays, Richardson threw his first TD pass of the season, for 44 yards to Keon Zipperer, before

Hooker’s 70-yarder to McCoy. …Midway through the second quarter Richardson had thrown for 207 yards, a career high. …Florida had just three sacks in its first three games. It had three Saturday.

RB Jabari Small’s 16-yard TD reception was his first. … Florida was four of five in fourth-down conversions.

The Takeaway

Florida: In order to have success in the remainder of their SEC games, the Gators will need to add a dimension to their offensive attack. Once defenses focus on containing Richardson in the pocket, the variables in the offense are limited.

Richardson was able to avoid the pressure and has been sacked just twice this season.

Epoch Times Photo
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown avoiding Tennessee defensive back Trevon Flowers (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Knoxville, Tenn., Sept. 24, 2022. (Wade Payne/AP Photo)

Tennessee: Getting WR Cedric Tillman (leg) healthy is imperative if the Vols plan on competing against the elite in the SEC. Having that weapon available is key to giving LSU, Alabama and Kentucky something to game-plan against.

Up Next

Florida: After playing three ranked teams in the first four weeks of the season, the Gators get a break by hosting Eastern Washington Saturday.

Tennessee: An open date Saturday gives the Vols an opportunity to catch their breath before going to LSU and then hosting No. 2 Alabama.

By Al Lesar 

The Associated Press

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