Florida was down. Florida was reeling. Florida faced a 14-point deficit in front of a dead crowd on its home turf, and Tennessee was going to finish off the Gators and finally, finally win a game over Florida.
It took an incredible fourth quarter from Will Grier, and phenomenal execution on fourth down from the Gators, and two missed field goals as time expired. But it all got the Gators a 28-27 victory that extended its winning streak over Tennessee to an 11th year.
Florida struck first in the game, using a big run from Kelvin Taylor to key a touchdown drive in the first quarter, but the Gators lost control of the game shortly afterward. Joshua Dobbs, a demon slicked in butter all day, led the Vols to a 17-7 lead at halftime — and, despite fumbling to set up a Florida touchdown drive in the third quarter, calmly led Tennessee to another score that pushed the lead to Tennessee's only 14-point advantage over Florida since 2003.
But the Gators, with 10 minutes to play and two touchdowns to score, did not give in or up, though their defense still gave ground. Grier piloted the Gators to an insane five-for-five performance on fourth downs, throwing for 100 yards on those plays alone, and saved his best throw for Florida's last offensive snap of the day.
Grier found freshman Antonio Callaway beyond the sticks — assuring Florida of its 10th fourth down conversion in as many tries in 2015 — and Callaway and Brandon Powell did the rest, combining to turn a short completion into a 63-yard catch-and-run that knotted the game at 27. When walk-on kicker Jorge Powell punched through the extra point, the Gators had a 28-27 lead.
It wasn't quite over, though — and anyone who remembered Tennessee's last win over Florida surely remembered the 30-28 margin of victory in that game. Sure enough, the Vols drove into Gators territory to set up a long kick from Aaron Medley that could have won the game.
But unlike in that year, when a controversial penalty on Dallas Baker helped the Vols get James Wilhoit just close enough to hit from 50 yards away, a penalty for illegal substitution pushed back Tennessee this year, forcing Medley to swing away from 55 yards for the first time in his career.
Medley missed his first attempt at the kick wide right — well wide.
But Jim McElwain had called timeout just before the kick.
Medley's second kick was much closer, starting right and bending so, so, so close to the right upright.
So....so close. pic.twitter.com/jfF5laMcIl— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 26, 2015
It missed by inches.
And by that margin, Florida beat Tennessee.