Photo by James Gilbert | Getty Images

Second year head coach Billy Napier secured his first signature win at Florida Saturday night. The Gators defeated the No. 11 ranked Tennessee Volunteers 29-16 in front of the seventh largest crowd in program history.

The Gators earned the upset victory behind a career high 172 yards on the ground by sophomore Trevor Etienne. Fellow backfield-mate Montrell Johnson found the endzone twice despite gaining just 23 yards on 12 carries.

Following an opening drive that resulted in a missed field goal by Adam Mihalek, the Gators scored touchdowns on their next four drives in the first half.

Etienne got Florida on the scoreboard with a 62-yard dash to the endzone. Mihalek’s PAT was blocked leaving the Vols ahead 7-6.

The Gators then forced a three and out before Johnson scored from four yards out. The Gators were aided early on by successful third down conversions. Florida started the game six for seven on third down, leading to both touchdowns.

Trailing 12-7, Tennessee QB Joe Milton lofted a ball while under heavy pressure for an easy interception by Devin Moore. Thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty, Florida operated from the UT 9-yards line and scored three plays later. Florida’s final touchdown came out of a seven play, 55-yard drive that culminated with Johnson’s 18-yard score.

The Gators chose to go conservative in the second half, only putting a field goal on the scoreboard. But, Tennessee couldn’t figure out the Florida defense. Or maybe it was the crowd of 90,751.

Graham Mertz finished the day 19-24 for 166 yards. Etienne rushed for 172 yards on 23 carries.

Florida heavily utilized freshman Eugene Wilson early on as he had the first six receptions of the game. Wilson, however, suffered a collarbone injury and didn’t return to the game.

Tennessee continued its dismal streak in Gainesville, where they haven’t won since 2003.

Florida will take a 2-1 record into Saturday’s matchup with Charlotte. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

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