No. 14 Florida survived a number of critical mistakes to score a 37-27, come-from behind win over host Vanderbilt on Saturday at Nashville, Tenn.
Florida had 577 yards of total offense, as running back Lamical Perine ran 23 times for 121 yards, and caught four balls for 93 and a touchdown. Quarterback Feleipe Franks hit 19 of 29 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Gators spotted Vanderbilt 18 points, and lost the turnover battle, 3-1. But thanks to a cleaner second half, Florida ripped off 24 unanswered points and took the lead for good on running back Jordan Scarlett’s 48-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, did little on offense after losing running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the second quarter. Vaughn rushed six times for 56 yards, and caught a 75-yard touchdown pass that put the Commodores up, 21-3, with 13:59 left in the second quarter.
But the Vandy junior came out after one carry on the next drive and didn’t return due to an undisclosed injury.
After a mistake-filled first half, Florida took advantage of a couple of Vanderbilt mishaps to pull within a point midway through the third quarter. Vandy kicker Ryley Guay missed a 25-yard field goal, then, Florida punter Johnny Townsend surprised the Commodores on an 18-yard run on fourth-and-3, setting up a 37-yard touchdown pass from Franks to wide receiver Van Jefferson, a Nashville-area native.
After Vandy downed a punt at the Gator 5, Florida drove the length of the field and took its first lead of the day when Scarlett (21 carries, 113 yards) ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run around right tackle on a third-and-3. Kicker Evan McPherson’s point-after put the Gators up, 27-21.
Vandy finally stopped its slide when Commodore defensive lineman Drew Birchmaier forced a fumble from running back Dameon Pierce at the Vandy 31, which safety Zaire Jones recovered at the Gator 28.
Again, the Commodore offense stalled and Guay connected on a 42-yard field goal with 12:10 left. But the Gators punched back when Franks hit Freddie Swain with an 11-yard touchdown toss on the next drive to go up 34-24.
Guay responded with a 53-yard field goal with 3:55 left to get within seven.
Vandy had one last shot at a stop, but Perine ripped off a 10-yard run on third-and-3 from the Vandy 31 with 2:08 left, then added a first-down run into Vandy territory a play later. McPherson hit a 44-yard field goal with 37 seconds left for the final margin.
Florida’s James Houston was ejected in the second quarter after a targeting hit on Vanderbilt starting defensive end Dare Odeyingbo, and leading tackler Vosean Joseph was ejected on the same play for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That series of events prompted a shouting match between Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham as Mason attended to Odeingbo near the UF sideline.
—Field Level Media