Florida survives Vanderbilt, 13-6

NASHVILLE-- Vanderbilt fell to Florida 13-6 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. The 'Dores lost despite 110 yards rushing from Ralph Webb and the VU defense limiting the Gators to just 236 yards of total offense.

In the fourth quarter, trailing 13-6, Vanderbilt saw a drive stall at its own 43 and faced a fourth-and-7 with just over 1:30 remaining in the game. Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason then chose to punt.  The Commodore defense then came through with a 3-and-out stop of the Gators who punted to Vandy with 1:14 remaining. However, on the first play of Vandy's final drive quarterback Wade Freebeck's pass to Sean Dowling was batted by one Gator defender and then intercepted by Florida safety Nick Washington to seal the Florida victory. Freebeck had entered the game earlier in place of Kyle Shurmur who was injured on a hit.  

After the game Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was adamant that he made the correct decision in punting with under two minutes remaining.  

"I heard the jeers when we punted," said Mason. "When you have three timeouts and an opportunity to come out and go after a punt, that's what you do."

After a scoreless first quarter, Florida pulled ahead 7-0 on a 4-yard run by Jordan Scarlett with 6:27 remaining in the first half.  The Commodores answered on their ensuing drive with a 12-play, 56-yard drive that stalled at the Gator 19-yard-line. Vanderbilt's Tommy Openshaw booted a 38-yard field game that narrowed the visitor's lead to 7-3.  But Openshaw's kickoff with just over two minutes to go in the half went out of bounds giving the Gators starting position at the 35.  The Gators then quickly drove to the VU 25 where Florida's Eddy Pineiro connected on a 38-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to increase the Florida lead to 10-3. 

On its second drive of the third quarter Vandy put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive but again, the Commodores were forced to attempt a field goal, this time at the UF 8. Openshaw's 27-yard field goal narrowed the score to 10-6.  

Florida added a 26-yard field goal with 8:17 remaining in the game to finalize the scoring.  

If there is any silver lining to this Commodore loss it could be that the Black Death Defense may have made a return.  Ironically while the defense has given up just over 30 points per game in three non-conference games, the 'Dores have allowed just 26 total points in two games against SEC opponents.  

Vanderbilt was surprisingly successful at running the ball on the normally stingy Gator defense gaining 147 yards on 37 carries (4.0 ypc).  Ralph Webb gained 110 yards on 24 carries (4.6 ypc).  He now has 582 yards rushing on the season and is well on his way to another 1,000 rushing season.  Khari Blasingame gained 41 yards on five carries (8.2 ypc).  

Vanderbilt struggled to pass during the game.  Starter Kyle Shurmur connected on 9-of-25 passes for just 82 yards and an interception.  Freebeck was 3-for-7 for 36 yards and the one interception.  Kalija Lipscomb and C.J. Duncan each had three catches for the Commodores.  

Good natured Florida head coach Jim McElwain was humorous describing his team's escape from Nashville after an ugly win.

"A wise man once said, 'you even have to bring your ugly babies home from the hospital' and that was ugly," said the second-year Gator head coach. "In fact, that might have been what someone told my dad when I was born."

Vanderbilt falls to 2-3 (0-2 SEC). The Commodores will travel to Lexington, Ky., on Saturday to face the Kentucky Wildcats. Florida improves to 4-1 (2-1 SEC) and next will host LSU on Saturday. 

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