KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- James Wilhoit missed the easy one to
tie, then made the tough one to win it.
Wilhoit kicked a 50-yard field goal with 6 seconds left after
missing an extra point that would have tied the game to give No. 13
Tennessee to a 30-28 victory over Florida (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 11 AP) on Saturday night.
Tennessee was trailing 28-21 in the fourth quarter, when
freshman Erik Ainge completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jayson
Swain with 4:17 left. But Wilhoit, a sophomore who had never missed
a PAT in his career, was wide right on the kick.
"When I missed the extra point for a second I didn't believe
it. ...I guess I just assumed it would go in," Wilhoit said. "I
just had to believe that I would get another opportunity, and when
I did I knew I had to make it."
After the miss, all Florida had to do was run out the clock, but
the Gators (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) had to punt with 55
It was enough time for the Vols (2-0, 1-0) to rally for their
first win over Florida at home since 1998, the year they won the
national championship. Tennessee had beaten the Gators the last two
times in Gainesville, and won back-to-back games over Florida for
the first time since 1970-71.
"This was certainly a character fight, but the team's attitude
is just so good," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I knew we
could come through it with a win."
Ainge completed passes of 21 and 7 yards to Chris Hannon to set
up the field goal. After Wilhoit kicked it straight down the
middle, the Tennessee bench erupted with players and coaches
streaming onto the field. The Vols were flagged for a celebration
penalty, but they didn't care.
"Any time you beat your rival, it's a great feeling," Swain
said. "We know the past, the history and the rivalry."
The loss overshadowed a fine performance by Florida's Chris
Leak, who was making his first appearance at Neyland Stadium. A
record crowd of 109,061 tried to rattle him and ended up staying
after the game to sing along to the umpteenth playing of Rocky Top.
Leak, the younger brother of the Vols' C.J. Leak who became the
Gators' starter after last year's Tennessee game, rebounded from an
interception in the first quarter to finish 22-for-31 for 286 yards
and three touchdowns.
During his recruitment, Chris Leak soured on the Vols and
criticized Fulmer for the way he treated his older brother, who
began his career as a promising quarterback but is now a reserve.
Leak hooked up with Chad Jackson for an 81-yard touchdown that
put the Gators ahead 28-21 with 7:43 left.
"I'm still confident, especially after what we've been
through," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "It's been a while since a
team was undefeated in the (SEC) East."
Tennessee continued its rotation of freshmen quarterbacks and
started Brent Schaeffer, though it was Ainge who was most
After he led a scoring drive that tied it at 21, he played the
rest of the way.
"Erik was just doing a better job at the time," Fulmer said.
"But Schaeffer certainly gives you a lot of things and he has
nothing to hang his head about."
Ainge completed 16 of 24 passes for 192 yards with three
touchdowns and an interception. Schaeffer was 3-of-4 for 40 yards
and ran seven times for 38 yards.