The game turned, though, on a mistake by 5'7" Vols freshman Kurston Biggers, the smallest man on either team. After giving the Gators a 9-7 lead with his second and third field goals, Jeff Chandler booted a line drive kickoff that Biggers inexplicably tried to catch high overhead. The ball bounced off his hands and out of bounds at the Tennessee eight. When the Gators got the ball back four plays later, they capitalized on the favorable field position, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior Doug Johnson to Jackson with 51 seconds left in the second quarter. Florida also drove for a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half to build a 16-point lead.
Tennessee mounted a late comeback, marching 97 yards for a touchdown with 5:10 remaining and then intercepting Johnson for the third time. With 3:41 to go, the Vols' offense took over at the Gators' 49, needing only a field goal to take the lead. But the Florida defense held and the rally died.
A Nov. 20 showdown in Gainesville against Florida State will reveal whether the Gators have regained the form they showed in '96, when they last won the SEC and national tides. To come out on top this season they will need Johnson, who threw for 343 yards on Saturday, to cut down on his interceptions. They will need their novice linebacker, McCaslin, to keep blitzing like Wilber Marshall. And they will need Brown to continue playing like a man possessed—in this case by the memory of his friends.