Vandy (3-2) fell to Florida 38-24 in Gainesville on Saturday, as the ‘Dores were even with the Gators through one half of play, 17-17.
Gator starting Quarterback Luke Del Rio suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, and was later ruled out for the remainder of the season.
The Gators (3-1) cashed in on a tipped Feleipe Franks pass, deflected by Ryan White that found Freddie Swain who laid out inside the 10 yard-line for a momentum shifting reception. The Gators used an Eddie Pinero field goal to level the score before the halftime break. Franks provided timely throws when needed throughout.
From that point forward, the Gators used that particular play to vault them to victory, a momentum swing Vandy could not counter.
Commodore Quarterback Kyle Shurmur (18/40, 264 yds., 3 TD) kept Vanderbilt within striking distance throughout the game, as Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig took plenty of deep shots downfield on offense – Sophomore speedy Receiver Donaven Tennyson saw his first extended action of the season.
Receivers Caleb Scott (1) and Kalija Lipscomb (1) caught Shurmur touchdowns – the touchdown reception marked the first and fourth respectively for the Commodore duo.
The Gators relied heavily on running back duo Malik Davis and Lamical Perine, as the running mates combined for five touchdowns, and 163 of 246 rushing yards on Saturday.
Vanderbilt needed a single stop, to preserve time on the clock and get the ball inside two minutes to go in regulation on a key third-and-two, down just a score after a touchdown toss to Nathan Marcus.
However, Florida’s Davis ran untouched to the end zone, to salt the game away for the Gators – a play that summed up the afternoon for Vanderbilt’s defense.
The offensive line struggled against four-man Gator pressures, and struggled to open holes for Running back Ralph Webb, (11 carries, 35 yards) for the majority of the ball game.
Shurmur was harassed, but sacked just once. Without Shurmur’s play, Vanderbilt isn’t in contention.
It’s back to the drawing board as Ludwig and Mason try to create some sort of running game with Vanderbilt’s offensive line woes, in addition to a lack of run defense, for a second consecutive week.
Vanderbilt let an opportunity slip away – against a now revitalized Gators offense after it’s upstart on Saturday.
More importantly, a recipe was discovered to attack a reliable Vanderbilt defense, and best believe it’ll be a blueprint for the rest of the season.
Vanderbilt returns home to face No. 7 Georgia for Homecoming this Saturday, Oct. 7.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. inside Vanderbilt Stadium.