Was this a trap game for the mighty Gators? Well, after a near brawl between the opposing coaches and sidelines, the momentum swung tremendously into the reptiles’ favor. They erased an 18-point deficit on the road to ruin the Commodores’ homecoming celebration. The final score was 37-27. Florida won its fifth straight this season. At the same time, they also beat Vanderbilt for the fifth straight year and 27th time in 28 games in the series.
The Gators (6-1, 4-1) scored 24 straight points after Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3) jumped out to a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Franks was intercepted on the opening drive from the Vandy two-yard line. Vanderbilt, then, drove 98 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Shurmur to Jared Pinkney. The drive was kick-started by a 43-yard run from tailback Ke’shawn Vaughn. Vaughn struck again with the score 7-3, as he took a perfectly executed screen to the house for a 75-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 14-3.
The Gators allowed Vanderbilt to move the ball up and down the field, and capitalize on turnovers for the first 24 minutes of the first half. Florida would charge back, capitalizing on a 63-yard run by Lamical Perine, setting up a field goal, trimming its deficit to 21-13 at halftime. This was in large part due to Vaughn’s early exit in the second quarter to what is believed was a concussion. His unavailability would stifle Vandy’s offense.
In the second half, it was all Florida. They went 80 yards on 10 plays to make the score 21-20, behind QB Feleipe Franks, as he connected with Van Jefferson for a 38-yard touchdown. Jordan Scarlett then ran 48 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Gators a 27-21 lead. The Commodores would answer with a field goal of their own, making the score 27-24. The Gators’ offensive pressure, however, would prove too much for the Vanderbilt defense. Florida took the next drive 75 yards on nine plays, to the end zone on an 11-yard pass from Franks to Freddie Swain, giving the Gators a 34-24 lead.
Vanderbilt turned three turnovers into 17 points. The Commodores sacked Feleipe Franks twice, stripping him of the ball once. They also intercepted Franks once. Vandy quarterback, Kyle Shurmur threw two touchdowns with his father, New York Giants Coach Pat Shurmur, watching from the stands. The Gators struggled with penalties all day, with seven for 89 yards. Yet the Commodores still couldn’t pull out a win. The Commodores start 0-3 in league play for a sixth straight season. The Gators dominated and out-gained Vanderbilt 576-336 yards in total offense.
Late in the second quarter, with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey looking on, it got heated between both teams. While Vandy Coach Derek Mason and members of the medical team were checking on an injured player, Mason and Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham got into a shouting match. Mason then turned his attention to Coach Dan Mullen as they exchanged words, prompting both benches to clear. Both teams were assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and Gators linebacker Vosean Joseph was ejected due to his second personal foul call of the day. Florida linebacker James Houston was also flagged on the same play for targeting, subsequently, ending his day as well.
Following the game, Mullen and Mason hugged each other at midfield. Mason says a Florida player said something to him, and the melee extended from that point.
“It’s the referee’s job to referee the game, not ours,” said Mason.
Perine had a TD run and 121 yards rushing for the Gators’ first 100-yard rusher this season. He also added four catches for 93 yards. Franks threw for a career-high 284 yards and two touchdowns. Scarlett finished with 16 carries for 113 yards and a TD.
Vaughn’s day ended with one catch for 75 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 56 yards. Jamauri Wakefield also ran for a TD.
The Gators have an open date before their annual game with Georgia in Jacksonville on October 27. The Commodores visit Kentucky this week.