KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Tennessee's James Wilhoit nearly kicked away the game before giving Florida the boot.
Wilhoit atoned for a missed extra point with a 50-yard field goal with six seconds to play, lifting No. 13 Tennessee to a wild 30-28 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 9 Florida.
In yet another exciting chapter to the heated rivalry, coach Phillip Fulmer picked up a rare win over the Gators while embattled Florida coach Ron Zook will have to explain another tough loss in a big game.
The seesaw affair showcased a pair of excellent young quarterbacks in sophomore Chris Leak, who gave Florida a 28-21 lead with his 81-yard touchdown pass to Chad Jackson with 7:43 to play, and freshman Erik Ainge, who led Tennessee (2-0, 1-0 SEC East) right back down the field.
Ainge converted a 4th-and-6 with a 32-yard pass to Tony Brown to the Florida 15-yard line. Two plays later, he found Jayson Swain on a slant for a 13-yard TD pass with 3:25 left.
Wilhoit, a sophomore who had made the first 50 extra points of his career, pushed this one right, leaving Tennessee trailing and most of the 109,061 at Neyland Stadium groaning.
"You just expect that when you kick it, it's going to go in," Wilhoit said. "I guess I'd made 4-something in a row, and when I pushed it right, I couldn't believe it."
"I was shocked, just like the 108,000 in here," Fulmer said.
The Vols surrendered one first down but stiffened and forced a punt. They were helped by a personal foul against Gators receiver Dallas Baker, who traded head slaps with cornerback Jonathan Wade nowhere near the action.
"Somebody hit our guy and we retaliated," Zook said. "They always get the second guy."
Ainge, who completed 16-of-24 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns, found Chris Hannon with passes of 17 and seven yards before stopping the clock with 13 seconds to go.
"The most fun of playing football - as a quarterback - is the two-minute drill in the fourth quarter," Ainge said. "You've got to be out there making plays. That's what you want. That's what you live for."
Wilhoit came on and drilled the second-longest kick of his career.
"All I know is that it went straight," Wilhoit said. "Once I saw it go in, I don't think I was thinking about anything else. I was just going crazy. It was unbelievable."
The teams have split the last six meetings, with Tennessee scoring 165 points and Florida 167. Fulmer is 115-28 at Tennessee but just 5-8 against Florida (1-1, 0-1).
"Any time you beat your rival it's a great feeling," Swain said. "We know the past, the history and the rivalry of this game."
Leak, who was 22-of-31 for 286 yards and three TDs, struck first with a five-yard TD pass to O.J. Small, who caught eight passes for 76 yards.
Freshman Brent Schaeffer started for the Vols and directed an 80-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard TD run by Jabari Davis. Schaeffer was 3-of-4 for 40 yards and added 38 yards on seven carries.
Ainge came on and threw a 16-yard TD pass to Justin Reed in the first minute of the second period, giving Tennessee a 14-7 lead.
"There will be times where Schaeffer has the hot hand and he will be in there," Fulmer said. "We thought Ainge had it tonight."
Leak answered with a nine-yard TD pass to Jemalle Cornelius, capping a 97-yard march. Just over two minutes later, DeShawn Wynn scored on a one-yard run, reclaiming the lead for the Gators.
Ainge's 23-yard TD toss to Bret Smith tied it, 21-21, with 13:02 to play.
"Tennessee made the plays when they had to," Zook said. "The momentum will always go back and forth. You have to be able to handle it."