Florida wins 17th straight vs. Vandy, stays in SEC East race
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Gators tweaked a few things before playing Vanderbilt, hoping for better results after losing three of their last four games.
|Tebow On Top|
Tim Tebow's two 1-yard rushing touchdowns against Vanderbilt topped the SEC TD record for quarterbacks in a single season. The Florida QB now has scored a rushing TD in 10 consecutive games, a school record and the longest streak in the nation.
Tim Tebow, Florida
John Bond, Miss. St.
Derrick Ramsay, Kentucky
Andy Johnson, Georgia
They switched uniforms, altered their approach to the coin toss and turned a backup center into a starting defensive linemen.
The most effective change may have been getting Percy Harvin more touches.
Harvin became the first player in school history with 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game, scored twice and helped Florida (No. 20 BCS, No. 18 AP) hammer Vanderbilt 49-22 on Saturday.
"Percy Harvin is one of the most dynamic players in the country," coach Urban Meyer said. "He's strong and he's powerful and he's a heck of a football player. ... You do get concerned. How many shots can a guy like Percy take? But pound for pound he's as strong a player as we have on the team."
The Gators extended their winning streak against Vandy to 17 games and stayed in the hunt for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title. To return to Atlanta for the second straight year, the Gators need to beat South Carolina next week and have Tennessee and Georgia lose another league game .
Florida (6-3, 4-3) appears ready to do its part. With Harvin, Tim Tebow, Andre Caldwell and Brandon James doing most of the damage, the Gators manhandled a Vanderbilt defense that entered the game ranked third in the conference and 14th in the country.
Tebow completed 22-of-27 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 35 yards and two scores. Caldwell caught nine passes for 103 yards and two TDs, and James had three returns for 116 yards, including two longer than 50 yards that set up touchdowns.
"We're going to ride those horses now," Meyer said. "It's down to one game now. We're in November and in a fight for our lives in the SEC, and you do what you've got to do to move the ball."
That usually means getting the ball to Harvin.
He ran 11 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns, scoring on a weaving 18-yard run in the first quarter and a stumbling 13-yarder in the fourth. He added nine receptions for 110 yards.
"A lot of the credit goes to my offensive line," Harvin said. "They made huge holes. I felt like anybody could have run through them. I just used my God-given talent and ran."
Commodores coach Bobby Johnson wanted one more move from the speedy sophomore.
"I'll take him. I'll take him back on the plane with me," Johnson said.
The Gators were coming off a 42-30 loss against Georgia, another game in which Florida's defense struggled to pressure the quarterback, cover receivers and get off the field on third down.
The unit was considerably better against Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4).
Florida had two interceptions, forced a fumble and held the Commodores to 255 yards. Coaches challenged the defense before the game, winning the coin toss, deferring to the second half and essentially putting the unit on the field to make a statement. The defense forced a punt.
"It was a confidence boost. We needed that," linebacker Brandon Spikes said.
Mike Pouncey certainly helped the cause. The freshman offensive lineman moved to defensive tackle early in the week because of numerous injuries, ended up making his first career start and played well.
"That's hard to imagine that just occurred," Meyer said. "He brought instant energy to our defense."
Meyer provided some extra motivation by allowing his players to wear all-blue uniforms for the first time since losing to LSU in 2004.
"It was time for a switch-up," Caldwell said.
Added Meyer: "I'll set my hair on fire if it'll excite them. They came out very energized."
The Gators, playing at home for the first time in five weeks, scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions. They racked up 358 yards in the first half, 57 more than the Commodores allowed in the first eight games, and 19 first downs. They finished with 498 yards.
The Commodores weren't nearly as effective.
Mackenzi Adams was 16-of-32 for 159 yards with two interceptions. He ran for 19 yards and two scores.
Vandy's final touchdown came when Darlron Spead returned a fumbled snap 36 yards, with Tebow, Harvin & Co. standing on the Florida sideline. It was too little, too late.
"They just took it to us today. They whipped us," said Johnson, whose team still needs one win to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982. "We couldn't match up on a lot of things they were doing offensively and had a tough time stopping them."
2022 Southeastern Conference Standings