NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Jordan Scarlett ran for a 4-yard touchdown with Eddy Pineiro adding a pair of field goals as No. 23 Florida held off Vanderbilt 13-6 Saturday.
Florida (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) came up with two interceptions and two sacks on a day where the Gators defense otherwise struggled against one of the nation’s worst offenses.
Ralph Webb ran for 110 yards as Vanderbilt outgained Florida 265-236 in total offense. The Commodores (2-3, 0-2) had a final chance to force overtime until Nick Washington intercepted a Wade Freebeck pass with 54 seconds left sealing the Gators’ win.
The Gators never trailed and led 10-3 after Scarlett scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, and Pineiro kicked a 42-yard field goal as the half expired. Pinero added a 26-yarder with 8:17 left.
Florida had a chance to pad its lead after Vanderbilt punter Sam Loy fumbled the snap and lost the ball with 5:07 left with the Commodores trailing 13-6. But Austin Appleby fumbled the snap on second-and-goal at the Vanderbilt 1 with 2:56 left giving the Commodores one last chance.
Florida: This set up as the perfect trap game for the Gators between Tennessee and LSU against an opponent they’ve dominated over the years. The Gators had the majority of the 30,565 fans in Florida colors and still came out sluggish. Still, the Gators take home their third straight win and 25th in the last 26 games in this series.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores finally showed signs of the stingy defense that ranked in the top 30 nationally in a lot of categories last season. Better yet, Webb gashed a defense that had been giving up only 76.5 yards rushing.
The Gators barely stayed inside the Top 25 after being routed by Tennessee . Voters will have to decide how impressive Florida was against Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt had forced only two three-and-outs in each of the Commodores’ past three games. The Commodores opened this game forcing the Gators three-and-out on their first two drives. Adam Butler also had two sacks on one drive, the second forcing a Gators’ punt, for a defense that hadn’t managed more than one sack in each of the past three games.
Florida: The Gators return home to host LSU, the only SEC team to beat the Gators during the regular season last year in winning the Eastern Division.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores visit Kentucky still looking for their first SEC win.