Florida football team shocked by Vanderbilt

Gators mustered only 45 rushing yards in loss
Vanderbilt wide receiver Jayden McGowan (16) tosses the ball to an official after scoring a...
Vanderbilt wide receiver Jayden McGowan (16) tosses the ball to an official after scoring a touchdown ahead of Florida safety Jadarrius Perkins (27) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)(Mark Humphrey | AP)
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 4:29 PM EST
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NASHVILLE, TN. (WCJB) - With no more home games left in The Swamp this season, Florida hit the road to face Vanderbilt in its Southeastern Conference finale. Both teams were riding high off momentum, as the orange and blue were coming off back-to-back wins over SEC opponents, while the black and gold upset Kentucky to snap their 26-game losing streak in conference play.

That momentum had to give an advantage to one of the teams in this game, and it turned out to be the home team.

The Gators (6-5) rushed for a season-low 45 yards and committed two costly turnovers in their unexpected 31-24 loss to the Commodores (5-6). Saturday’s shortcoming by Florida marked the first time the team had lost to Vanderbilt, in Nashville, since October 15, 1988. It also snapped the 8-game winning streak by the orange and blue.

Florida’s offense, which had scored on its first four possessions in each of its last two games, only managed a pair of field goals in the first half on four drives. Montrell Johnson Jr. had the only two running plays to go for more than nine yards, but both were negated by penalties. Florida came into the game averaging 332 yards on the ground over their last two games, but ended the first quarter with -13, the half with 17, and the game with only 28 more in total.

The backbreaker for the Gators, in the first half, came with just over 3:30 seconds left before intermission. The orange and blue’s defense forced the Commodores to go three-and-out, but on the ensuing punt, Jason Marshall Jr. called for a fair catch, but muffed the punt, which allowed Commodores long snapper Wesley Schelling to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. That critical mistake gave Vanderbilt a 14-6 lead at the half.

In the second half, Anthony Richardson led the Gators 75-yards for a touchdown on their opening possession to cut the deficit to 14-12, but Vanderbilt’s Mike Wright met Richardson’s grit with his own. Wright responded with a 66-yard touchdown drive of his own to boost the Commodores lead to 21-12 with 3:23 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Less than 90 seconds later, following Richardson’s lone interception of the game, Wright completed the hat trick of td passes when he found Ben Bresnahan down the right sideline, and Bresnahan bulldozed his away across the goal line to vault Vanderbilt ahead by 16 points with 2:06 left in the third.

Richardson did respond with a 74-yard touchdown pass to Daejon Reynolds early in the 4th to bring the deficit to 10, but following Marshall’s interception with just over 6:30 to play in the 4th, Florida’s offense stalled out and turned the ball over on downs.

The Commodores kicked a field goal to reassume a two-score advantage with 4:38 left in regulation.

Richardson did lead one last touchdown drive to help bring the Gators to within seven points, but weren’t able to find the endzone on their final possession to suffer their fifth loss of the season.

Up Next: Florida will finish the regular season on the road against archrival Florida State on Friday, November 25.

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