Homecoming in the swamp featured two 4-4 teams when the Vanderbilt Commodores ventured to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators. The Gators extended their three game losing streak to four after they lost to the Commodores 34-17 in front of an announced attendance of 88,004 fans. It was the first victory for Vanderbilt in The Swamp since 1945, the first time the two teams played.
The loss severely hurts the Gators’ (4-5, 3-4 SEC East) chances of avoiding their first losing season since 1979 and their first season without the reward of a bowl game since 1990. Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4 SEC East) needs just one win in its last three games to become bowl-eligible for the third straight year, something that has never happened in school history.
VANDERBILT 3, FLORIDA 0: The Gators have been prone to slow starts defensively, but held firm when Vanderbilt drove the ball deep into the red zone to start the game. The drive could have stalled but on a fourth down quarterback Patton Robinette scrambled for eight yards to keep the drive going. The Gators got a sack on third and goal, forcing the Commodores kick a 31-yard field goal by Carey Spears with 7:56 remaining in the quarter to cap off the 14 play 62-yard opening drive.
VANDERBILT 10, FLORIDA 0: Following a Tyler Murphy interception, Vanderbilt had the ball deep in Florida territory, beginning its drive at the Gators’ 10. Jerron Seymour wasted no time pounding the Gators for a touchdown run on the only play of the drive with three seconds left in the quarter.
VANDERBILT 17, FLORIDA 0: The Commodores were again able to capitalize on a short field after another pick of a Tyler Murphy pass. Vanderbilt started at the Florida 22 and needed only four plays for Robinette to find the end zone from five yards out with 9:22 left in the half.
FLORIDA 3, VANDERBILT 17: Usually a drive that the Gators start on their own nine-yard line is almost certainly destined for disaster. Not this time, as the Gators promptly ripped off a 16-play drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock. It was prolonged by a pass interference call on third down that gave Florida the ball on the Vanderbilt one-yard line, but the Gators were unable to punch it in on a play sequence that included an option pitch fumbled out of bounds and two incomplete passes. Brad Phillips got the Gators on the scoreboard with a 23-yard field goal with 1:47 left before the half.
Kelvin Taylor: 10 carries, 40 yards.
Tyler Murphy: 6-14, 79 yards, two interceptions.
Trey Burton: two receptions, 27 yards
The Good: Brad Phillips field goal with 1:47 left in the first half. After Austin Hardin’s missed field goal in the first quarter, Will Muschamp brought in Brad Phillips who wasn’t even mentioned in the kicking discussion earlier in the week. Phillips provided the Gators some sort of scoring after their 17-play 85-yard drive was stalled on the goal line.
The Bad: Murphy’s two interceptions. The first came on an absolutely awful overthrow right into the hands of All-SEC cornerback Andre Hal, who returned the pick to Florida’s 10. The second interception came with Florida backed up inside its own 20. Murphy was hit around the knees while trying to step into a downfield throw and the result was a pass that looked more like a punt. Vanderbilt’s Kenny Ladler returned the ball down to Florida’s 22. Vanderbilt scored touchdowns following both interceptions.
The Ugly: Boo Birds make an appearance. The fans apparently had seen enough in the second quarter following an offensive drive. They let the Gators know exactly how they felt by booing the home team during homecoming. Perhaps their silent apathy as the team headed towards the locker room at halftime was worse.
VANDERBILT 24, FLORIDA 3: Murphy’s third interception led to Vanderbilt’s third short field of the day. Vanderbilt scored its third touchdown when Seymour scored from two yards out to cap a two-play four-yard drive with 12:47 left in the third quarter.
FLORIDA 10, VANDERBILT 24: Thanks to the longest play of the day up to that point (Quinton Dunbar’s 35-yard catch) the Gators were able to drive the ball 75 yards on 13 plays to score their first offensive touchdown of the day. Running back Kelvin Taylor’s four-yard touchdown run ended the drive with 7:16 remaining in the game.
VANDERBILT 31, FLORIDA 10: It took 17 plays for Vandy to march 87 yards for the touchdown that stretched the lead back to 21 points. Florida could have gotten Vanderbilt off the field on the third play of the drive, but a 23-yard pass from Robinette to Jordan Matthews provided new life. The Commodores also converted on a fourth down rush by Robinette to keep the drive going. Seymour put the exclamation point on it with his one-yard touchdown rush with 14:54 left in the fourth quarter.
FLORIDA 17, VANDERBILT 31: Freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood had the first touchdown catch of his career, and he’ll be hard pressed to haul in a crazier one than the 11-yarder that was kicked into his grasp by a defensive back. Fulwood’s catch was the final play of a six-yard drive that went 73 yards. The touchdown came with 7:40 remaining in the game.
VANDERBILT 34, FLORIDA 17: Vanderbilt added insult to injury with a 31-yard field goal by Spear with 45 seconds remaining in the game.
The Good: (1) Florida’s 11-play 75-yard TD drive. After a first half full of turnovers the Gators finally put together a scoring drive in the third quarter — and a nice drive at that. Kelvin Taylor. (2) Ahmad Fulwood’s first career touchdown with 7:40 left in the game. Murphy threw a fade in the back of the end zone to Fulwood but the ball was batted downward by a Vandy defensive back who kicked the ball back into the air. Fulwood was able to haul it in with one hand and keep his feet in bounds.
The Bad: More boo birds and a mass exodus in the student section. The decision to run a draw on second and 31 down 21 points in the fourth quarter against a team that they had beaten 22-consecutive times didn’t sit well with the Gator faithful in the crowd. They let the team hear their displeasure before a mass exodus in the student section began.
The Ugly: Losing to Vanderbilt. This marks the first time since 1988 that Vanderbilt has notched a win over Florida and the first time since 1945 (the first time the two schools played) that they have won in Gainesville. It is also the first time that Florida has been under .500 since starting the 1992 season 1-2.