Peterman completed just 4 of 11 passes on the evening for a measly 5 yards, though in fairness three potential completions were dropped. Justin Worley came on after halftime, throwing for 149 yards and a 19-yard touchdown to Pig Howard.
“Everything is about creating your own breaks,” UT coach Butch Jones said. “We create a great play and then we turn it back over to them, and you just can’t do that.”
Murphy admitted to some early nerves, including taking the snap on the face mask in one instance. The touchdown throw to Patton might have turned his night around.
Patton took a swing pass from Murphy and scooted all the way down the right sideline, using a little stutter-step to elude a defender before hitting the end zone for a 10-7 lead.
“Trey Burton made a great block for me,” Patton said. “I just had to make one person miss and take it to the end zone.”
Said Murphy: “That kind of got my nerves settled and allowed me to play football.”
Just before halftime, Murphy helped UF capitalize on Cummings’ interception with a 40-yard drive that led to Brown’s 2-yard touchdown. After UT cut the score to 17-10 on Michael Palardy’s field goal to open the second half, the Gators used two 11-play touchdown drives to put the game out of reach.
“The first two drives of the third quarter were the offensive keys to the game,” Muschamp said. “Two 11-play drives for 14 points really gook us far.”
Until that final drive, though, the first half was a miscue-filled mess that CBS broadcaster Verne Lundquist graciously suggested “would crack mirrors. It was not pretty to look at.”
In those first 26 1/2 minutes, the two teams combined for six fumbles (four changing possession) and three interceptions, lowlighted by Peterman’s slipped attempt and Gators punter Kyle Christy mishandling the snap after UF’s first drive went three-and-out.
The Vols, though, were quick to show they were no less hamfisted as Neal fumbled it back two plays later on a hit by Dante Fowler Jr. Driskel moved the Gators as far as the UT 41, only to watch in pain as Swafford took home the pick-six for a 7-0 lead.
Tennessee lasted just three plays before Peterman fumbled, setting up Hardin’s 23-yard field goal. Peterman then was victimized by a tipped ball that went off a receiver’s hands and fell to Poole, who gave UF possession at the Vols’ 44.