Gators outduel Commodores in defensive battle

The momentum that Vanderbilt had from last week’s win over Western Kentucky never translated over during the Florida game. The Commodores dropped to the Gators 13-6 in a game that was never really out of reach. The game displayed some similarities to last year’s close loss at Florida.

Neither team could move the ball well during the first quarter, as the game remained scoreless: a good sign for Vanderbilt’s defense facing the No. 23 Gators. But the passing game was struggling again, highlighted by an early Kyle Shurmur interception on the team’s second drive.

Florida put up the game’s first points with a mid-second quarter touchdown. Vanderbilt would answer back with a field goal on the next drive, but the Gators added their own as time expired in the half.

Early in the second half,  Vanderbilt marched down the field and put up a field goal, led by some strong runs from Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame. The scoring would end there for the Commodores though.

But while the offense struggled to move at all, there was still some hope left for the Commodores late in the fourth quarter, even after Kyle Shurmur suffered an injury that left him sidelined for the remainder of the game. With Wade Freebeck in, the drive quickly ended and turned into what appeared to be the finisher after Sam Loy mishandled a punt. Florida picked it up and quickly got to Vanderbilt’s one yard line after a few plays.

Wade Freeback as the Florida Gators defeated Vanderbilt 13-6 October 1, 2016 at Vanderbilt Stadium.

The game was all but over until Florida’s quarterback, Austin Appleby, fumbled the snap and Torren McGaster recovered it. Freebeck then completed passes to Khalija Lipscomb and CJ Duncan that got Vandy up to their own 43 yard line. Then facing a fourth down, Coach Derek Mason decided to punt the ball away amid a roar of boos from the crowd.

That decision ultimately gave Vandy the ball back with just over a minute after forcing Florida to punt after using all three of their timeouts. Then Freebeck stepped back to pass and targeted Jared Pinkney for what would have been a decent gain. However, the ball was picked off and Florida sealed the deal.

Game sealing interception as the Florida Gators defeated Vanderbilt 13-6 October 1, 2016 at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Game sealing interception as the Florida Gators defeated Vanderbilt 13-6 October 1, 2016 at Vanderbilt Stadium.

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