By Zac Ellis
Vanderbilt came up short in its first SEC road test of 2017.
The Commodores played tough but ran out of gas in the second half against No. 21 Florida, falling to the Gators, 38-24, in Gainesville.
Here’s how it went down at The Swamp:
WHAT HAPPENED: Vanderbilt and Florida fought to a 17-17 tie after two quarters, with the Gators knocking in a tying field goal as the clock hit zero. Florida carried that momentum – and a strong running game -- into the second half, building a 31-17 lead. Vanderbilt clawed its way back to a one-score game in the fourth quarter, but the Gators converted a 4th-and-1 into a 39-yard touchdown run by Malik Davis with 1:42 left to close the door.
TURNING POINT: Vanderbilt trailed 24-17 when it began its second series of the third quarter looking for the tying score. Facing 2nd-and-1, two run stalled before the Dores were forced to punt on fourth down. Florida turned that punt into a 12-play, 65-yard scoring drive that gave it a 31-17 lead and a sizable cushion.
RB Lamical Perine (Florida)
Florida’s sophomore running back didn’t blow up the box score (15 carries for 58 yards) but he helped the Gators light up the scoreboard. Perine ran in three touchdowns on the day, becoming the first Florida running back to rush for a trio of scores since 2012.
DL Jordan Sherit (Florida)
Sherit spent a lot of time in Vanderbilt’s backfield on Saturday. The fifth-year senior led all players with five quarterback hurries and notched one tackle for loss in leading a big day for Florida’s defensive front.
LB Oren Burks
The senior Burks was a beast in the tackle department for Vanderbilt, leading the team with 15 total stops, including six individual tackles. Burks also chipped in 1.5 tackles for loss.
GIVE ME THE NUMBERS
Florida’s combined conversion rate on third and fourth down against Vanderbilt. The Gators managed to stay on the field on Saturday, finishing 7-16 on third down and 3-3 on fourth down. Their final conversion – a 39-yard rush on 4th-and-1 from Malik Davis – was the back-breaker that gave them a 38-24 lead. As a result, Florida enjoyed a 36:00-24:00 time of possession advantage over the Commodores.
Rushing yards accumulated by Vanderbilt’s offense. The Commodores were never able to get Ralph Webb and company going, managing just 46 yards on 20 carries. Webb, playing his final game in his hometown of Gainesville, rushed for 29 yards on 11 carries.
Score when Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio left the game with an injured shoulder. The Gators inserted backup Feleipe Franks, who played the rest of the game from that point forward. Franks began the game 7-9 for 121 yards and helped Florida record a 242-11 advantage in second-half yardage. Franks finished the day 10-14 for 185 yards.
WORTH NOTING: Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw three touchdown passes in the loss, bringing his season total to 11. Shurmur threw nine touchdown passes in all of 2016.
WHAT’S NEXT: Vanderbilt returns home to face Georgia at Vanderbilt Stadium next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.