(Saturday, November 7th)
Final Score: (1) Florida 27, Vanderbilt 3
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow threw for 208 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, as top-ranked Florida took a 27-3 win over Vanderbilt.
Tebow completed 15-of-20 passes for the Gators (9-0, 7-0 SEC), who extended the nation's longest winning streak to 19 games. Jeffery Demps ran for 57 yards and a score on seven carries, while David Nelson had a TD catch in the victory.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez finished with seven receptions for a career-high 120 yards for Florida, which remained in control in its quest for a second consecutive national championship.
"I thought our defense tremendous and I thought our offense did OK," Florida head coach Urban Meyer said. "We are still lacking the big play production that we need to get in our offense. But once again, the best thing about going 9-0 is the chance to go 10-0."
Florida has already clinched the SEC's East Division, while the Crimson Tide secured the West and a place in the conference title game earlier Saturday with a win over LSU.
Mackenzi Adams struggled against the Gators defense, throwing for just 100 yards on 13-of-29 passing. He was also intercepted once, as the Commodores (2-8, 0-6) fell to their sixth consecutive loss.
"I thought we played hard, we just couldn't seem to get it in the end zone," Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson said. "It's hard to beat a good team."
Vanderbilt initially held Florida's offense in check, forcing the Gators into a three-and-out on their first possession. Later in the first quarter, Florida started at its own 15-yard line and reached the Vanderbilt 10 but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis with a minute to play in the frame.
"A few times in the red zone we left with three points," Nelson said. "That's just devastating to the offense. You have a good drive going down the field, get in the red zone and leave with a field goal. We will take three points any time we can get them, but at the same time we feel like we should score touchdowns on each drive."
The Commodores were moving on the ensuing possession, as Zac Stacy ran for 17 yards on the first play. But Ryan Stamper picked off Adams on the next play, returning it 18 yards to the Commodores' 34.
Shortly into the second quarter, Florida reached the end zone after going for it on fourth down. Tebow ran for 10 yards to set up a 4th-and-1 at the 25, and on the next play Demps got to the right sideline and sprinted past everybody for the score and a 10-0 lead.
A Vanderbilt punt led to a 45-yard field goal by Sturgis with 6:08 left, and Florida carried a 13-0 edge into halftime.
The Commodores came out energized in the third quarter, getting one of their four sacks on the first play by throwing Tebow for a five-yard loss. Florida went three-and-out, and Vanderbilt then drove into the red zone.
"We weren't going to sit back tonight," Johnson said. "We had four sacks and that's what we wanted to do. They had a very diverse offense and did a lot of stuff. We did a good job condensing their strengths and we executed well."
Warren Norman broke off a 30-yard run up the middle to the Florida 15, but the series stalled there, and the Commodores settled for a 32-yard field goal from Ryan Fowler with a little under nine minutes left.
But Florida overwhelmed Vanderbilt the rest of the way, going on an 11-play scoring drive on the next possession. Tebow found Hernandez for a nine-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10, then kept it himself to covert the fourth down in Commodores territory.
Tebow later completed a 17-yard pass to Brandon James to get the ball inside the 10, and the quarterback eventually scored on a one-yard keeper to make it a 20-3 game with 1:52 left in the third.
Early in the fourth Florida got the ball at the Vanderbilt 13 and scored in four plays, as Tebow capped the drive with an eight-yard pass to Nelson with 9:22 on the clock.
Tebow's rushing TD tied him with Georgia's Herschel Walker for second in SEC history with 52 career TDs (rushing and receiving)...Florida is 9-0 for the third time in school history...James finished with four catches for 44 yards for the Gators, while Nelson had three for 28...Norman ended with 12 carries for 65 yards for the Commodores...Florida plays at South Carolina next Saturday, while Vanderbilt hosts Kentucky...Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes did not play. He was initially suspended for the first half for apparently trying to gouge the eye of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey during last Saturday's 41-17 victory over the Bulldogs. Eventually the suspension was extended to the entire game.
11/08 00:57:55 ET