Florida Gators quarterback Graham Mertz led the team to a big win over No. 11 Tennessee, 29-16, for the team’s 10th straight victory at home in the rivalry series.
Mertz sealed the night with a kiss with his girlfriend, Alexis Loomans, who was in attendance at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville to witness the victory.
Loomans, the Miss Wisconsin USA winner for 2023, threw out the first pitch before a Milwaukee Brewers-Pittsburgh Pirates game this year.
The Wisconsin transfer was 19-for-24 for 166 yards and a touchdown pass to Montrell Johnson Jr. as part of a 20-point second quarter. Mertz also ran for a touchdown in the same quarter.
“Man, it got loud,” Mertz said of the 90,751 who packed the stadium. “I was on the sideline and I couldn’t hear my coach [standing] in front of me. It got rocking. … They truly affected the game.”
The game ended with a fight among players from both teams. Mertz took a knee and then took exception to Volunteers defensive lineman Omari Thomas running into him.
Benches then cleared and Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden and Florida lineman Micah Mazzccua squared up with each other.
“That was just the weirdest ending to a game I’ve ever had,” Mertz said. “I guess that’s Florida-Tennessee.”
Mertz has 692 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three games this season. Florida is 2-1 and will play Charlotte at home next Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.