Live blog from the No. 14 Florida at Vanderbilt college football game in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday:
Vanderbilt capped a 98-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass from QB Kyle Shurmur to tight end Jared Pinkney with 6:23 left in the quarter. Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 43 yards to the Vandy 45 to highlight the nine-play drive, the longest in years for the Commodores.
After Vandy went three-and-out with the first possession of the game, Feleipe Franks had the Gators inside the Commodores’ five-yard line, but had a pass deflected and then intercepted by cornerback Joejuan Williams at the 2.
What Went Right: Florida’s defense stopped Vanderbilt on the game’s first series, and the offense has looked poised early regardless of the turnover. And the Gators have outgained the ‘Dores, 132 yards to 97, in the first quarter, and have a chance to pull even.
What Went Wrong: Despite moving the ball effectively in both series, Florida made one critical mistake on offense. Franks’ interception at the goal line gave Vanderbilt the ball back, and the Commodores responded with a momentum-stealing 98-yard touchdown drive. However, the Gators start the second quarter looking to put six points on the board of their own.
Play of the Quarter: It has to be Franks’ interception. The tipped pass gave Vanderbilt the momentum, and the Commodores capitalized with a 98-yard scoring drive.
Trending: Both of Florida’s drives reached the red zone, and the offense has outplayed Vanderbilt’s so far. For a team that came into the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in turnovers gained, it’s now the Gators that will look to respond after giving up a early turnover.
— Graham Hall
Freshman Evan McPherson nailed a 22-yard field goal at the 14:14 mark to cut the Florida deficit to 7-3 to cap the 70-yard drive in 16 plays.
The Gators have made two trips inside the Vandy 5-yard line.
Vanderbilt answered when Shurmur tossed a screen pass to an open Vaughn, who went 75 yards for the TD. Vaughn has had six touches for 130 yards and a score.
UF linebackers James Houston, for targeting on the punt return, and Vosean Joseph, for his second unsportsmanlike penalty, were ejected from the game. Following the targeting call on the Gators, Florida coach Dan Mullen and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason exchanged words on the field.
McPherson hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired to cut UF’s deficit to 21-13 to cap a seven-play, 77-yard drive that was highlighted by Franks’ swing pass to Perine that went for 63 yards to the Vandy 8. The next play was an incomplete pass to bring on McPherson.
What Went Right: Not much, aside from Lamical Perine. Instead of putting up six points of their own, the Gators settled for a field goal. Florida’s defense hasn’t been awful, aside from allowing a 75-yard touchdown on a gamble that didn’t pay off. Aside from the turnovers, Florida has moved the ball well, which leaves the door open in the second half for a comeback. Perine’s seven-yard touchdown run gave the Gators a little life prior to the midway point, and Perine’s 63-yard reception came as a shock in the waning seconds, and might be the turning point the Gators needed.
What Went Wrong: Almost everything. The Gators could only watch as Vanderbilt capitalized on their mistakes, taking a 21-3 lead. The miscues were harmful — five penalties and two turnovers gave Vanderbilt the lead and the momentum midway through the second quarter — and have essentially been the difference thus far. The Gators had a chance to pull back within a possession, but madness ensued between Mullen, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason. James Houston and Vosean Joseph were ejected from the game on a would-be momentum-changing punt return by Freddie Swain, resulting in 30 yards of penalties. Perine’s field-flipping catch-and-run saved the Gators, however, but UF goes into the second half with little to no depth at linebacker.
Play of the Quarter: It should have been Kyle Shurmur’s 75-yard screen pass, which did more than just give Vanderbilt a double-digit lead: it revealed what can happen when things go wrong when the Gators gamble on defense and lose. But it has to be the scrum between Mullen, Grantham and Mason. It’s a bad look for both teams, and the Gators lost two linebackers for the remainder of the contest as a result. It’s more than likely that sequence has game-changing implications.
Trending: Perine seemingly miraculously made it a one-possession game before halftime with two huge plays, but Vanderbilt has to be confident heading into the break, considering Florida is reeling and is missing two critical defensive playmakers for the second half. The pressure will be on Mullen and Franks to find a way to avoid a letdown and escape Nashville with a victory.
— Graham Hall
Florida 0 13
Vanderbilt 7 14
UF went three-and-out with the first series of the second half.
Tommy Townsend’s punt for 39 yards gave Vandy good field position at its 49.
Aided by a pass interference penalty on third down by UF, Vandy moved the ball inside the Gators’ 10, but came away empty when Ryley Guay missed a 25-yard field goal attempt at the 9:47 mark.
Dan Mullen went into his bag of tricks, calling a fake punt and Townsend answered the call with an 18-yard run to the Vandy 45.
Several plays later, Franks hit receiver Van Jefferson with a 38-yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 21-20 at the 5:23 mark.
What Went Right: Florida benefited from a missed Vanderbilt chip-shot field goal, and the ensuing drive resulted in a 38-yard touchdown to Van Jefferson. The Gators are driving past midfield to start the fourth quarter.
What Went Wrong: Not much for the Gators, aside from allowing the ‘Dores to move the ball successfully to a degree on their second drive of the quarter. Florida appears more composed and has seized an opportunity to emerge victorious entering the final period of play.
Play of the Quarter: Tommy Townsend’s 18-yard run on fourth down extended the drive for the Gators, and Franks hit Jefferson for six just three plays later. The Gators pulled within a point, and it wouldn’t have happened without Townsend.
Trending: The Gators have all the momentum and are just past midfield with a chance to take the lead after trailing by 18 points earlier in the contest.
— Graham Hall
Florida 0 13 7
Vanderbilt 7 14 0
Jordan Scarlett broke off a 48-yard TD run on third down-and-three on the quarter’s first play to put UF up 27-21, the Gators’ first lead.
UF turned the ball over for the third time when running back Dameon Pierce fumbled and Vandy recovered at the Gator 28. UF held, but Guay nailed a 42-yard field goal with 12:10 left to make it a 27-24 game.
Franks connected with Swain for an 11-yard touchdown to cap a 75-yard, nine-play drive for a 34-24 lead with 8:07 left in the game.
UF has outscored Vanderbilt 31-3 after the Commodores took an early 21-3 lead. The Gators have rolled up 528 yards of total offense, the high for the season.
Guay kicked a 53-yard field goal with 3:55 left to cap a 14-play, 42-yard drive and make it a one-score game at 34-27.
McPherson stretched the lead to 37-27 with 37 seconds left with a 43-yard field goal to cap an eight-play, 49-yard drive.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson intercepted Shurmur to close out the game.
Florida enters its open week with a 6-1 overall record and 4-1 mark in the SEC. Vandy falls to 3-4, 0-3.
What Went Right: The Gators grabbed a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter on Freddie Swain’s 11-yard touchdown reception. After Vanderbilt took an early 21-3 lead, the Gators clamped down in the second half, outscoring the Commodores 34-6 the rest of the way.
What Went Wrong: The highlights resoundingly outweighed any mistakes, as UF completed the comeback after a sloppy first half, holding Vandy to just a pair of field goals in the process.
Play of the Quarter: Swain’s leaping 11-yard touchdown gave the Gators a double-digit lead for the first time today, although a 53-yard field goal put the pressure on UF to complete the comeback. Florida freshman kicker Evan McPherson nailed the 43-yard field goal to give the Gators some breathing room, but it was Swain soaring for six that ultimately prevented a Vanderbilt upset.
— Graham Hall
“That was the big message for everybody, all of us was this: Don’t lose our cool … Just do your job and execute. I love the emotion,” Mullen said in a field interview with ESPN. Mullen said he and Vandy coach Derek Mason are “close friends, have been close friends for awhile,” then praises job Mason has done at Vanderbilt.
Final rushing numbers: Perine 23-121, one score; Scarlett 16-113, one score.
Florida 0 13 7 17 — 37
Vanderbilt 7 14 0 6 — 27