Nov. 6, 2010
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Florida Gators are back on track.
Chris Rainey blocked two punts and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from John Brantley as Florida routed Vanderbilt 55-14 Saturday, setting up a showdown with South Carolina for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title next week.
The Gators (6-3, 4-3) will host the Gamecocks with the winner advancing to the SEC championship in Atlanta. Florida is trying to get back for a third straight year.
Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5) lost its fourth straight, ensuring a second straight losing season under first-year coach Robbie Caldwell. The Commodores trailed 41-0 when Ryan van Rensberg blocked a punt Javon Marshall recovered and ran in for a touchdown.
The Gators started a little slow with a rare morning kickoff with a temperature of a chilly 44 degrees. But Florida still rolled up a season-high in points while winning its 20th straight game in this series.
They also had season highs with 88 plays for 480 yards. The defense had four sacks and forced three turnovers in holding Vandy to 109 yards. Terron Saunders returned a fumble 45 yards for a TD and Solomon Patton returned a blocked punt 42 yards for another score. Mike Gillislee also had two TD runs of 3 and 43 yards.
Rainey, in his second game back after a five-game suspension, went untouched in blocking a punt recovered at the Vanderbilt 3, and Gillislee ran in two plays later to start the scoring. Trey Burton took a handoff and flipped it back to Brantley who threw downfield to Rainey, who caught the underthrown ball for a TD and a 21-0 lead.
The junior wasn't done. He also blocked a second punt that Frankie Hammond picked up and ran 39 yards for a TD and a 34-0 lead with 5:43 left in the first half. That tied Rainey for the career lead with four blocked punts, the last Carlos Dunlap who also had two blocks against Vanderbilt.
That no-huddle, hurry-up offense coach Urban Meyer installed before last week's win over Georgia was more than enough against Vandy, and Meyer delivered on his promise that Jordan Reed would throw.
Reed threw away on the first pass his career to open the second quarter, and the result was a 31-yard TD to Deonte Thompson for a 14-0 lead. Reed got more time at quarterback late and had a 6-yard TD run.
The Gators still have some areas to work on. Brantley overthrew some receivers, and Vanderbilt had four sacks. Meyer was booed for challenging a ruling of a possible fumble leading 41-0, but he won even that as officials found the ball had come out early.
Meyer's challenge is nothing like Caldwell's. Earlier this week, he said his Commodores had been playing like Keystone Kops. It only got worse against Florida as injuries piled up.
They've now been outscored 168-35 in this skid. They couldn't even handle the kickoffs cleanly, bobbling four with Andre Hal fumbling another out of bounds for a 1-yard return just before halftime. They recovered a botched punt in the first quarter trailing 7-0, and Caldwell went for a fake field goal. But Ryan Fowler's pass to punter Richard Kent missed.
Zac Stacy started at running back with Warren Norman out for the season with a right wrist he dislocated last week, and Stacy was carted off in the second quarter after being knocked out. He was taken for tests and was reported alert.