Rapid Reaction: Florida roars back vs. Vandy after fracas
Look out Florida! It’s a trap!
Despite the warnings, the No. 14 Florida Gators did not put their best foot forward Saturday
early afternoon in a road game at Vanderbilt.
However, the Gators rallied from an early deficit and scored 21 second-half points to beat the Commodores 37-27 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Florida played better after a bench-clearing incident in the first half which found coaches Dan Mullen and Derek Mason yelling at each other.
After Vanderbilt missed a short field goal early in the third quarter, Florida went 80 yards on 10 plays to make the score 21-20. Quarterback Feleipe Franks connected with Van Jefferson for a 38-yard touchdown.
Vanderbilt tried to respond and got into Florida’s half of the field but the drive stalled and it didn’t take long for the Gators to take the lead. Franks completed a 26-yard pass to Moral Stephens on a third-and-7 play and Jordan Scarlett followed with a 48-yard run to give UF a 27-21 lead.
The Commodores answered with a field goal that made the score 27-24 but the Gators’ offensive pressure was too much for the Vanderbilt defense.
Florida took the next drive 75 yards on nine plays, getting a 27-yard run on a reverse from Kadarius Toney to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Franks to Freddie Swain to give the Gators a 34-24 lead.
The Gators allowed Vanderbilt to move the ball down the field and capitalize on turnovers for the first 24 minutes of the first half and take an 18-point lead.
Franks was intercepted on the opening drive near the goal line. Vanderbilt drove 98 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Shurmur to Jared Pinkney. The drive was kickstarted by a 43-yard run fron 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 and a 14-3 lead for the Commodores.
Franks’ second turnover of the game, a fumble off a quarterback draw, gave Vanderbilt a first down at the Gators’ 28. Four plays later Jamauri Wakefield scored from 7 yards to make the score 21-3. But Vaughn, who Commodores coach Mason said he wanted to make the feature back, was injured and his unavailability stifled Vanderbilt’s offense.
Meanwhile Florida began charging back. Franks completed first-down passes to Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson and Lamical Perine. The 19-yarder to Perine gave the Gators a first-and-goal play at the 7. Perine covered the final yards on a rush to make the score 21-10.
After holding Vandy to a quick three-and-out, Florida looked like they were going to get good field position off a punt return by Swain, but a block in the back was called and freshman linebacker James Houston was ejected for targeting. While Mason and members of the Vanderbilt medical team checked on an injured player, Mason and Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham got into a shouting match.
Mason turned his attention from Grantham to head coach Mullen and they exchanged expletives as both benches cleared. Both teams were assessed unsportsmanlike conducts and Gators linebacker Vosean Joseph was ejected. Joseph had always had a previous conduct call against him on a unnecessary bodyslam tackle.
With everyone separated, Florida got a 63-yard run by Perine to set up a field goal as Florida trimmed its deficit to 21-13 at halftime.