Things got a little interesting in Nashvegas. The sixth-ranked Florida Gators came away with a 38-17 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in an unexpectedly competitive game Saturday afternoon.
Vanderbilt opened the game with the ball and took it right down the field for a score. The fifth time in seven games the Florida defense allowed an opening-drive touchdown.
Florida responded with an eight-play, 76-yard drive ending with Kadarius Toney breaking press coverage for a 27-yard score. That connection put Kyle Trask ahead of Tim Couch and Joe Burrow for the most touchdowns by an SEC quarterback through seven games.
The Commodores took the lead back with a field goal on their subsequent drive but Evan McPherson’s leg tied the game at 10 a few Florida possessions later. And the Gators snatched the lead with a great catch by Trevon Grimes in double coverage with 0:49 left in the first half.
Vanderbilt stayed quiet the rest of the first half with the Gator defense forcing four straight punts after the field goal. It gained just 67 yards on four drives after totaling 143 on the first two.
Trask and Co. kept the offensive pressure on once the second half began. This time a goal-line handoff to Dameon Pierce and a McPherson PAT gave Florida a 24-10 lead to start the half.
The offense followed it up with a 91-yard possession where Justin Shorter and Malik Davis accounted for 89 of them. Trask connected with Kemore Gamble in the back of the endzone for a 31-10 lead and a seat for Trask in FBS history. He became one of the few FBS QBs with 31 touchdowns through seven games.
That should’ve put the game away. Key word being should’ve. But Vandy wouldn’t quit. Chris Pierce weaved through the defense off a Ken Seals pass for a 58-yard score to pull the game back to 31-17.
The Dores forced a Kadarius Toney fumble to give Vandy the ball on its own 22. But, the Gator defense forced a stop thanks to a tipped pass forcing an 8-yard loss to put Vandy behind the eight ball. Vanderbilt’s subsequent punt pinned Florida on the one.
And what does the Gator offense do? Take it 99 yards for a touchdown, thanks in part to Kemore Gamble. Gamble started the drive with a 34 yard catch from Trask and ended it with a 30-yard catch-and-run from Emory Jones
Seals and the Dores persisted. They drove down to the UF 23 in under three minutes in what seemed like a surefire TD drive. Then Kaiir Elam happened. The sophomore from Riviera Beach skied for a pass intended for Chris Pierce and came down with the game-clinching interception.
Florida ran off the finally four minutes of the ballgame to leave Nashville 6-1 and still in the driver’s seat in the SEC East despite the sloppy game.
|Offensive leaders||Defensive leaders|
|Kyle Trask: 26-35, 385 yds, 3 TDs||Kaiir Elam: 2 tkls, 1 PBU, 1 INT|
|Dameon Pierce: 11 carr., 55 yds, 1 TD||Khris Bogle: 4 tackles, .5 TFL, .5 sack|
|Kadarius Toney: 6 rec, 107 yds, 1 TD||Kyree Campbell: 9 tkls|