NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tight end Kemore Gamble did his best impression of teammate Kyle Pitts Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee, during the latter’s absence.
Gamble had three catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns in UF’s definitive win over Vanderbilt. After a rough first half for the Gators, UF turned things around in the second portion of the game to definitively move past the Commodores 38-17. The win brings UF to 7-1 on the year, and Vanderbilt’s loss is its seventh straight.
“I'm really pleased with our guys finding a way to win and suck it up and be good enough to win,” Mullen said after the game. “And make the plays we need to to win despite not playing at our top, our best, for the entire game."
Vanderbilt commanded its first drive. The commodores drove down the field with ease and quarterback Ken Seals delivered a tight pass on a slant to give Vandy a 7-0 lead. The Commodores looked like they were prime to stop an advancing UF on third and long near the redzone on Florida’s first drive. A defensive back tripped and Kadarius Toney caught a pass wide-open to tie the game at seven. At the end of the first quarter, Vandy held a 10-7 lead as Florida began the back-end of the first half at midfield.
The Gators punted, and the defense made sure Vanderbilt wouldn’t capitalize by getting its first stop. But the offense couldn’t cash in on numerous chances toward the end of the half, and it wasn’t until around five minutes left in the half that they were able to score again with a field goal. The Gators were 4 for 7 on third downs during the first half.
And then, once Vandy punted, the Gators got the ball with around two minutes left and went to work.
A quick, precise drive ended with wideout Trevon Grimes jumping over two defenders to snag a TD grab to put the Gators up 17-10. Vanderbilt had one more drive with dwindling time, but it could not do anything with it before the half came to an end.
After that, it was a different song and dance.
Florida came out and wasted no time on the opening drive, marching down the field until running back Dameon Pierce split the middle of the line for a touchdown. Vanderbilt couldn’t score the drive after, and from there, the Gators found their rhythm against the winless Commodores.
UF’s next drive resulted in a touchdown thanks to a catch by tight end Kemore Gamble in the back of the endzone, his first TD of the day. The Commodores tapped into a little bit of magic from their first drive when wideout Chris Pierce Jr. shook a few tackles after a slant route to take one to the house. But it was no use: That touchdown for Vandy made the score 31-17 at the end of the third quarter, and Florida wasn’t quite done scoring yet. Quarterback Emory Jones got his first TD toss of the year to Gamble, bringing the score up to 38-17 where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
“It was pretty much the dagger, it put the game away,” Trask said after the game. “He made the right read, and Kemore did the rest as far as execution goes, and like I’ve always said in the past, Coach Mullen does a great job of just having a lot of people that are ready to play.”
While Mullen was happy his team got the win, he thought its performance could have been better.
I think it was kind of just a ho-hum performance for us, if that's the best way to put it,” he said. “Which we can't do if we want to be a great team. We can't do that."
Florida will return home to Gainesville when the Kentucky Wildcats come to town next Saturday at noon.
Contact River Wells at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells.