NASHVILLE — Not even Tim Tebow did this.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night to lead No. 4 Florida to a 31-17 SEC victory over Vanderbilt before a crowd of 40,350 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Driskel set Florida's single-game rushing record for a quarterback on only 11 carries, breaking the 166 yards Tebow gained on 27 carries at Ole Miss in 2007.
"That's an honor, but they were keying in on [tailback Mike] Gillislee all night," Driskel said. "When two or three guys go for him, it opens up lanes. We kept running the same play, and they never really made adjustments to it."
The Gators (6-0, 5-0), who played outside the Sunshine State for a final time in the regular season, host No. 3 South Carolina this coming week.
Florida entered Saturday having outscored opponents 41-0 in the final 15 minutes, but Vanderbilt broke through with Zac Stacy's 1-yard touchdown run with 8:57 remaining and Casey Spear's 22-yard field goal with 2:35 left.
Spear's field goal followed Stacy's drop of a third-and-goal pass from Jordan Rodgers, which would have pulled the Commodores within 24-21.
"We need to end the game better, but our defense in six red-zone trips gave up only two touchdowns," Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "We can win a bunch of ballgames allowing 17 points."
Vanderbilt's hopes were snuffed once Driskel faked an inside give and bolted around right end for a 70-yard score with 2:20 remaining. Driskel had a 37-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and a 13-yard score in the third, faking inside on those as well before finding room to roam outside.
"I kind of just walked in on some of them," said Driskel, who spearheaded Florida's 326-yard rushing performance and threw just three second-half passes.
Driskel's 13-yard touchdown keeper around right end put the Gators up 18-7, and it was set up by a 54-yard run by Solomon Patton on a fake punt.
Vanderbilt had opened the second half with a 16-play possession that advanced to Florida's 7-yard line but came away empty following a false start, a Josh Evans sack of Rodgers and an Earl Okine block of a 44-yard Spear field-goal attempt. Stacy took a direct snap and raced 43 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown during that possession, but the play was called back due to a holding call on receiver Jordan Matthews.
"We had a game plan, but you can't make those types of mistakes against the No. 5 team in the country on your own field," Vandy coach James Franklin said after his team fell to 2-4. "We had opportunities in the passing game. We had too many dropped balls in critical situations.
"Defensively, we can't give up big plays. We did not adjust well to the quarterback running game, and I didn't think we played well all night long on special teams."
The Commodores went three-and-out on their first possession before moving 66 yards on six plays the next time and taking a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard pass from Rodgers to Matthews. Vanderbilt led until early in the second quarter, when Driskel's 37-yard keeper was followed by Trey Burton running in the two-point conversion.
The Commodores, who were hoping to defeat a top-five team for the first time in program history, host Auburn this week.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...