After opening the 2023 season with a loss at Utah, Florida football bounced back in Week 3 and showed the nation why you can’t count the Gators out yet.
The Volunteers didn’t stand a chance, it seemed, from the opening kickoff as Florida took a healthy lead into the locker room at halftime and held on to beat Josh Heupel’s team by 13. The Volunteers have not beaten Florida in Gainesville in over 20 years. The drought continues.
And these two programs don’t exactly like each other.
The annual rivalry game always feels intense and chippy and this year’s edition of the matchup was no different. The two sides got into it after the final whistle on Saturday.
Timeout ignites fight for Florida football in final seconds
In the final seconds, Florida ran the ball and it looked to be the final play of the game since Tennessee had just one timeout left and it was down by 13 points. The Vols had no chance to make a comeback in under 15 seconds.
But Josh Heupel called a timeout with nine seconds left much to the surprise of all Gator fans, players, and Billy Napier.
It was a weird move and it seemed a little classless, but everyone was ready to get the game over and just move on to next week. But Tennessee had other plans as Graham Mertz was trying to run the clock out. A Tennessee defender didn’t let him just run the clock out on fourth down, so he chased him down and another defender knocked him over.
Mertz’s teammates came to his rescue immediately and even set up a boxing match between two guys in the end zone after the final whistle. It was an ugly scene, but can I just ask what the heck punching someone’s helmet is going to do? You’re just hurting yourself at that point.
Anyways, this just goes to show the rivalry is alive and well.
The two teams didn’t end up shaking hands after the clock hit triple-zero and Florida taunted the Vols while they were running back into the locker room. What a scene.