Florida beats Tennessee on last-second Hail Mary at the Swamp

 sbnation.com  9/16/2017 11:10:16 PM   Alex Kirshner

No. 24 Florida beat No. 23 Tennessee on a last-second Hail Mary on Saturday, 26-20. Feleipe Franks found Tyrie Cleveland to win it from 63 yards away.

Franks had to move himself around quite a bit behind the line of scrimmage. But Tennessee didn’t have a lot of defensive help at the back of its secondary, and two defenders didn’t have the angle to deny Cleveland in the middle of the end zone.

How’d some of the people involved respond?

The Florida radio call is as overjoyed as you’d expect:

Cleveland’s response to CBS, moments after his catch:

The Tennessee fans in the crowd were a bit hurt.

Vols coach Butch Jones looked like a man who’d just seen some stuff, man. Some things.

Why didn’t Tennessee have more guys back on defense?

I’m not sure. The head coach has this thought:

How did a Florida receiver get behind literally everyone?

Also not sure. Tennessee appeared to be in cover-2, with two high safeties. But given that Florida could only hurt the Volunteers with a touchdown and the clock was expiring while the play was going on, that’s an odd coverage choice.

What was the rest of this game like?

That the game was even close was a product of some late-game Tennessee heroics and late-game mismanagement on the part of the Gators.

Florida took a 20-10 lead with just a shade more than five minutes left. That was supposed to be that, because neither offense had done anything of note all afternoon. But Tennessee quickly answered with a touchdown, then got the ball back when a Franks pass got tipped and landed in the arms of Tennessee nickelback Rashaan Gaulden. The Vols kicked a short field goal after that, knotting the score at 20-all.

Tennessee had a bunch of blown drives that could’ve been more, highlighted by a series that included multiple first-and-goals at the 1 and didn’t lead to a single point. Florida fumbled away a touchdown inside the 2-yard line and blew a 10-point lead in all of five minutes, in the fourth quarter of a huge game, at home. It was a master class in both teams doing all they could to aid the other. Then, Florida did something amazing.

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