Dobbs rallies Vols to 38-28 win over Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.
This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since a 30-28 victory in 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by a single point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games.
This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback by scoring 38 consecutive points.
"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."
Dobbs threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score -- all in the second half. He went 16 of 32 for 319 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Dobbs also rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Trailing 21-0 early against the nation's top-ranked defense, Tennessee stormed back and took a 24-21 lead with 12:45 left on Dobbs' 67-yard completion to a wide-open Jauan Jennings, who bobbled the ball a few times near the right sideline before making the catch while staying inbounds.
After Todd Kelly Jr. intercepted an Austin Appleby pass on Florida's next possession, Dobbs connected with Josh Malone on a 42-yard touchdown with 11:48 remaining. Dobbs added a 5-yard touchdown run with 8:27 left to make it 38-21.
"They came in and took it to us," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "It's disappointing. We've got a bunch of guys hurting in the locker room. ... These are life lessons. Not every day does everything go just like you wanted. I think the key is what you learn from it and how you're going to respond."
Appleby was starting in place of Luke Del Rio, who injured his left knee last week in a 32-0 rout of North Texas.
Florida took an early 21-0 advantage on a pair of Appleby touchdown passes and a 1-yard run by Jordan Scarlett. Both Appleby touchdown passes were set up by long completions from Appleby to Antonio Callaway. The Gators led 21-3 at halftime.
Twice in the first half, Tennessee got inside Florida's 5-yard line and failed to score.
"They could have folded," Jones said. "They could have come in and gotten down on themselves. And they didn't. They responded like you would want them to respond. I'm exceptionally proud of them."
FLORIDA: Perhaps the Gators' defense isn't quite as good as its statistics suggested. A defense that had been allowing just 4.7 points and 129.7 yards per game couldn't keep Tennessee's offense out of the end zone in the second half. Of course, that defense didn't get any help from an offense that disappeared during Tennessee's comeback.
The Gators' second-half collapse will raise questions about their ability to handle adversity.
TENNESSEE: Dobbs' second-half performance answered questions about his accuracy and Tennessee's downfield passing attack.
After going 7 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception in the first half, Dobbs was 9 of 12 for 235 yards and four touchdowns and an interception the rest of the way. His second-half interception came on Tennessee's first series of the third quarter. After that turnover, Dobbs led Tennessee into the end zone on five of its next six drives.
FLORIDA: The Gators visit Vanderbilt. Last season, Florida needed a 43-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining to beat Vanderbilt 9-7.
TENNESSEE: The Volunteers travel to No. 12 Georgia, which is coming off a 45-14 loss to No. 23 Mississippi.