KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Sports Network) - John Brantley threw for 167 yards and a touchdown and Mike Gillislee ran for two scores, as 10th-ranked Florida took a 31-17 win over Tennessee in the teams' SEC opener.
Brantley connected on 14-of-23 throws while Jeffery Demps rushed for 73 yards on 26 carries for the Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC), who have won 15 consecutive regular-season conference games.
Trey Burton ran for a score for Florida, while Frankie Hammond, Jr. caught a touchdown pass to end a drive kept alive by a fake punt.
Matt Simms passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns, but threw two costly interceptions -- one in the end zone -- as Tennessee (1-2, 0-1) lost to Florida for the sixth straight time.
After a slow first half, the Gators and Vols opened the third quarter with a series of scores.
Caleb Sturgis drilled a 44-yard field goal on Florida's opening touch for a 10-3 lead, while the Vols followed with a quick-strike drive to tie the game.
Simms' 16-yard pass to Justin Hunter advanced the ball near midfield, and on the next play he connected with Denarius Moore. Simms rolled out to his right and fired to the open wideout, who ran into the end zone to complete the 49- yard play.
But the Gators scored twice more before the quarter was through to take control.
On the ensuing drive, Florida was set up to punt on fourth down, but pulled off the fake, as Omarius Hines rumbled for 36 yards to the Vols' 25. The Gators continued to drive, and on 3rd-and-goal, Brantley found Hammond in the back of the end zone. The seven-yard pass gave Florida a 17-10 lead with 4:31 left in the frame.
Tennessee's next touch ended in an interception, as cornerback Jeremy Brown stepped in front of Moore to grab the ball.
Florida took over at the Tennessee 40 and converted the turnover into points, as Gillislee's five-yard scoring run made it a 24-10 game with 12 seconds left in the quarter.
The Gators were primed to run away with the game after forcing the Vols to punt and taking over at midfield. But Vols linebacker Austin Johnson forced and recovered a fumble by Demps to switch possession.
Tennessee took advantage, scoring on Simms' 35-yard pass to Hunter. The freshman receiver ran by his defender up the right sideline and found himself wide open, as Florida didn't have a safety drop back in coverage. Hunter made the catch in the end zone with 11:24 left to get the Vols within 24-17.
But the Gators responded once again, marching 60 yards on nine plays. Demps' 16-yard run up the right sideline gave Florida a 1st-and-goal from the eight, then ran for six more yards. On the next play, Burton was met at the goal line, but stretched the ball over to put the Gators ahead by two touchdowns with 6:15 to play.
Florida held on from there, as the Vols' two remaining drives ended in a fumble and turnover on downs.
Both offenses struggled early, punting on the game's first three drives. The only scoring in the first quarter occurred with 1:17 left, when Daniel Lincoln's 49-yard field goal try curled in by the right upright.
Florida started the ensuing drive at the Tennessee 42, thanks to a 43-yard kickoff return from Demps and a 15-yard facemask penalty on the Vols. Brantley converted a third down with a 16-yard pass to Deonte Thompson on the final play of the quarter, and Florida continued to drive in the second.
The Gators eventually set up at the four on a 1st-and-goal. Gillislee ran for two yards before running over a flattened Tennessee line into the end zone with just under 12 minutes left.
A fumbled punt catch by Florida's Janoris Jenkins gave Tennessee the ball at the Gators' 40 later in the second quarter. The Vols got inside the 10, but on 3rd-and-goal, Simms forced a pass to Da'Rick Rogers that was picked off by Jonathan Bostic in the end zone. Neither team got into opposition territory for the rest of the quarter, and the Gators carried a 7-3 edge into halftime.