Vols fall short vs. No. 6 Florida in Bailey’s first start
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Athletics) – Despite giving up just 19 rushing yards and making multiple timely stops, Florida’s passing attack was too much for Tennessee to overcome in a 31-19 defeat on Saturday inside Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee true-freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey completed 14 of his 21 pass attempts for 111 yards and his first career touchdown toss in his first career start for UT (2-6).
Bailey became the fourth ever Tennessee true-freshman signal caller to make his first career start against a top-10 opponent, joining Erik Ainge, Josh Dobbs and Brian Mauer.
Senior tailback Ty Chandler finished with 64 all-purpose yards, giving him 3,184 for his career. Chandler moved past Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry into fifth all-time in Tennessee history in career all-purpose yards.
The defensive duo of linebacker Henry To’o To’o and cornerback Warren Burrell led the way for the Vols defense, tallying eight total tackles apiece. To’o To’o also recorded a game- and career-high 2.5 tackles for loss.
Tennessee offensive linemen Cade Mays and Cooper Mays each started, becoming the first set of Tennessee brothers to start in the same game since Eli Wolf and Ethan Wolf did so on Sept. 4, 2017 against Georgia Tech at the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask led the way for UF (8-1) with 433 yards through the air and four touchdowns.
The Gators opened the scoring on a 30-yard field goal from Evan McPherson with 9:19 remaining in the opening quarter.
After the teams traded punts to end the first quarter, the Vols marched 96 yards down the field in 11 plays, capped by Bailey’s first career touchdown pass — a 15-yard connection to Gray out of the backfield — to give UT a 7-3 advantage with 9:59 left in the first half.
The drive was the longest scoring drive of the season for the Vols in terms of yardage and the touchdown was Gray’s 10th in his last 10 games.
Florida immediately responded with a six-play, 75-yard drive in just over two minutes to regain a three-point advantage.
On the ensuing drive, the Vols failed to convert on a fake punt from their own 30, but the defense was undaunted with its back against the wall, forcing a three-and-out before McPherson missed a 53-yard field goal attempt.
Following a Tennessee punt, the Gators added their second touchdown of the half to take a 17-7 lead into the locker room.
Getting the first possession of the second half, Florida maintained its momentum with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to increase its lead to 24-7.
The Gators pushed the advantage to 31-7 with another touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The Vols responded by embarking on an 11-play, 94-yard drive led by reserve quarterback J.T. Shrout. Chandler capped the drive with his third score of the season to cut the Florida lead to 31-13.
Shrout added his first touchdown pass of the year late in the fourth quarter, hitting transfer receiver Velus Jones Jr. on a 22-yard pitch-and-catch to cement the final score of 31-19. Shrout finished the game 12-of-14 passing for 121 yards in limited action.
The Vols return to action next week with a road contest against Vanderbilt. Kickoff time for that game is still to be determined.