QB Jeff Driskel’s 177 yards, three touchdowns lead No. 4/6 Florida over Vanderbilt 31-17

The Vanderbilt Commodores gave the No. 4/6 Florida Gators everything they could handle on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN, but it simply was not enough to pull off the upset as Florida (6-0, 5-0 SEC) always had an answer for Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-3 SEC) and picked up a hard-fought 31-17 victory.

The Gators out-rushed the Commodores 327-126 in an effort led by Florida sophomore Jeff Driskel, who scored three rushing touchdowns and bested Tim Tebow by setting a school single-game record for a quarterback with 177 rushing yards.

Vanderbilt got on the board first, completing a six-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in quarterback Jordan Rodgers’s first touchdown pass since the second week of the season. The Commodores benefited from a 15-yard penalty at the beginning of the drive when kick-catch interference was called on Gators sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy for hitting the punt returner too soon after he caught the ball.

Purifoy then got beat by wide receiver Chris Boyd for a 37-yard reception, and Florida junior safety Matt Elam was leapt over in the end zone three plays later as WR Jordan Matthews hauled in the touchdown. It was the first touchdown UF had given up in nine quarters dating back to the Tennessee game in week three.

The Gators finally registered some points on their first possession of the second quarter. Florida took over at its own nine yard line and put together an 11-play, 91-yard drive to score its first points of the game. Senior running back Mike Gillislee tallied 27 yards on the possession, but it was sophomore QB Jeff Driskel who scampered 37 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown.

UF then decided to go for two and converted as junior RB Trey Burton took a keeper into the end zone on a spread-out formation to give the Gators an early 8-7 lead.

Read the rest of the Florida-Vanderbilt story…after the break!

Faced with another long field, Florida took over from its own 12 and wound up at Vanderbilt’s two-yard line after Driskel completed 4-of-6 passes and ran for 36 yards on the drive. UF also benefited from a 15-yard pass interference call in the end zone. The Gators then nearly lost the ball as redshirt senior tight end Omarius Hines fumbled at the one, though Florida recovered and got another opportunity.

A 13-men-on-the-field penalty pushed the Gators back a bit and Florida threw incomplete on the next two plays, settling for a 23-yard field goal by redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis to take an 11-7 lead at the half. UF’s drive lasted 3:09 and consisted of 12 plays going for a total of 83 yards.

The Commodores got the ball to begin the second half and drove 75 yards down to the Gators’ eight-yard line in 14 plays. Vanderbilt then got called for a false start before Rodgers was sacked by senior safety Josh Evans for a 14-yard loss, forcing VU to try a 44-yard field goal. That attempt was blocked by redshirt senior defensive lineman Earl Okine and recovered by Purifoy, keeping the Commodores off the board despite the fact that they had possession for the first 8:43 of the second half.

Florida appeared to go three-and-out on the ensuing possession but instead of punting on 4th-and-5 from UF’s 43-yard line, junior WR Solomon Patton took a fake 54 yards down to Vanderbilt’s three. After a 10-yard holding penalty, Driskel ran a keeper 13 yards into the end zone to give the Gators an 18-7 lead with 4:31 left in the third quarter.

After the teams traded punts, Florida forced Vanderbilt into a 3rd-and-8 at its own 20-yard line. Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic sacked Rodgers when he dropped back to throw on the play, and the ball was immediately recovered by redshirt sophomore LB Neiron Ball. The Gators were held to a 29-yard field goal and took a 21-7 lead with 13:30 left in the game.

The Commodores got a new burst of energy after the field goal, running right down the field to be faced with a 1st-and-10 from UF’s 22-yard line. Rodgers was intercepted by sophomore S De’Ante Saunders on that play, but a defensive holding negated the turnover and gave Vanderbilt another chance. The Commodores used that opportunity to complete an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown by RB Zac Stacy to reduce their deficit to 21-14 with just under nine minutes left.

Stacy’s touchdown accounted for the first points allowed by the Gators’ defense in the fourth quarter all season.

On the ensuing kickoff, Florida redshirt junior WR Andre Debose registered his best return of the season, bringing the ball 60 yards down the field before being knocked out at Vanderbilt’s 37-yard line. The Gators stalled inside the 10 and settled for their third field goal of the night, a 26-yard attempt, to go up 10 points with 5:22 to play.

The Commodores did not waste any time getting back into scoring position. On the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, Rodgers completed a 53-yard pass to Matthews to bring Vanderbilt down near Florida’s red zone. Five plays later, Stacy dropped what would have been a touchdown pass and VU settled for a 22-yard field goal to get within a touchdown of UF with 2:35 remaining in the contest.

The Gators downed the kickoff at the 30 but did not wait long to regain their 10-point lead as Driskel took a zone read 70 yards down the field for his third touchdown of the game. The Commodores were unable to answer and failed on a 4th-and-Goal with less than a minute remaining.

Florida had a huge rushing advantage on Vanderbilt, but the Commodores outdid the Gators in the passing game by registering 237 yards to the visitors’ 77. UF’s 10 penalties for 80 yards were devastating, as was the team’s 2-for-11 mark on third-down conversion attempts. Vanderbilt was 7-for-17 on third down and also out-possessed Florida by 6:20, a rare occurrence this season.

The Gators have another tough test next week when they host South Carolina in Gainesville, FL on Saturday at a yet to be determined time.

Photo Credit: Wade Payne/Associated Press

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11 Responses to “QB Jeff Driskel’s 177 yards, three touchdowns lead No. 4/6 Florida over Vanderbilt 31-17”

  1. BEAT SCAR says:

    Tough win, didn’t really like the play calling.. Players weren’t playing with energy.. Classic example of a trap game, we pulled through, but it wasn’t pretty. GO GATORS

  2. Gator John says:

    It’s never pretty against Vandy. For whatever reason they always make it closer than it should be. But on the lighter side…we are now bowl eligible! So let’s enjoy this ugly win and look forward to another great atmosphere at the Swamp next week. Go Gators!

  3. GATORnSC says:

    BEAT SCAR.. love the name… Im a die hard gator that lives right here in the heart of LAMECOCK country. I hope these mighty gators get so pumped for the game next week. WE NEED TO BEAT THEM SO BAD!! Im so tired of hearing about them!! GO GATORS!!! good win tonight boys… now the fun starts!!!

  4. BobG says:

    Play calling was puzzling at times. I guess we do not have a play action pass in the red zone; nor a roll out with a run pass/option, even though we have one of the best running qbs in all of football.

    Espn didn’t really explain the issues on the Oline. Understand Harrison is hurt; don’t know when. Wilson is a mystery. Nixon did not play at the end. Why didn’t Koehne sub for Wilson, since he was clearly the 6th best lineman in the early games.

    I really do not understand the defense. I cannot believe that missing Easley made so much difference. We rush four, but somehow the DBs and LBs seem to disappear and there are wide areas of the field that are seemingly undefended.

    A win is a win; but it is hard to be confident going into next week, even though USC did not look impressive tonight. (A phantom personal foul made it look closer than it should have been. Love Herbsteit’s idiotic remark that the flag is for intent, and he ducked his head–even though there was no contact.)

  5. BEAT SCAR says:

    We also had a couple of phantom calls that did not go our way. How can you interfere with the punt catch if you let the man catch it and then hit him, he didn’t call a fair catch, I don’t understand. And how can it be pass interference on a receiver not even around the ball? Our game should’ve looked a little better on the scoreboard, but time to focus ahead. We can run the table if we take it next week. GO GATORS

  6. Alex says:

    We better learn how to pass the ball or this team is in trouble

  7. Marlex says:

    We need to learn how to catch the ball. I saw more drops than I saw bad passes. But the point is the same. We really haven’t had consistency in the passing game all season. Some great individual plays, but never sustained success over a long period of game play.

    We used fake to Gilly to free Driskel on the run to such success, I don’t know why we aren’t having better success with play action passing.

  8. ConnGator says:

    True, against a good team. Not sure how good SoCar, UGA, or FSU is at this point.

  9. SC_Gator says:

    @Marlex

    It’s a little lack of talent and a lot of lack of good WR coaching. These players haven’t developed at all. Thankfully it doesn’t make or break us, so far, but eventually it will catch up to us.

  10. G2 says:

    Guess this is who we are, shorten the game, win ugly sometimes… but win. Without some special teams plays (fake punt was awesome) we would be in trouble. We just had to get a win without injuries.
    Not much cockyness for next week though. Without a passing game they will load the box and stuff the run.

  11. Alex says:

    LSU loaded the box and Pease threw two extra pulling linemen at them. Loaded box didn’t slow that package down at all. The pass will be there when we need it (I hope).

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