8:00 PM ET, September 18, 2004
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
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 seconds left.
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 effective.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-15||6-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||2-2|
|TD||11:15||O.J. SMALL 5 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 34 yards.
|TD||5:06||JABARI DAVIS 1 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||14:16||JUSTIN REED 16 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||7:32||JEMALLE CORNELIUS 9 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 16 plays, 97 yards.
|TD||5:29||DESHAWN WYNN 1 YD RUN (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 30 yards.
|TD||13:02||BRET SMITH 23 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (JAMES WILHOIT KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||7:43||CHAD JACKSON 81 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 94 yards.
|TD||3:25||JAYSON SWAIN 13 YD PASS FROM ERIK AINGE (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||0:06||JAMES WILHOIT 50 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 28 yards.