The gap running back Jordan Scarlett ran through couldn’t have been any wider.
He started pacing toward the Florida sideline before cutting left through the hole his offensive line left for him. Then he turned on the jets.
Vanderbilt safety LaDarius Wiley was the only man impeding Scarlett’s way to the end zone, but as soon as Scarlett started upfield, it was clear that nobody was catching him.
He outran Wiley, sprinted 48 yards until he was in the end zone and waited a couple of seconds before his teammates caught up to celebrate with him.
“Shout out to the offensive line,” Scarlett said. “They always do a good job of making it right on the next play and doing their job, and you see me had...a lot of yards on the ground today.”
The run may have given the Gators their first lead of the game, but it perfectly capped off the offensive showcase on display during Florida’s 37-27 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks threw for a career-high 284 yards and two touchdowns, running back Lamical Perine led all runners with 121 yards on 21 carries and Scarlett almost matched with 113 yards of his own.
Both Perine and Scarlett became the first UF running backs to eclipse 100 yards in a game this season.
“That’s good, right? When’s the last time that happened?” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “Both guys ran hard. Obviously we had some explosive runs too...but I liked our consistency within the run game.”
Saturday’s performance continued that trend of the Gators’ consistent run game. Florida had 292 yards on the ground -- the most this season. It was also the fourth time UF had more rushing yards than it did passing yards in 2018.
That consistency, however, didn’t pan out until the second half. Mistakes early on almost proved fatal for the Gators.
Florida was driving downfield on its first possession before Franks threw an interception, a tipped pass meant for receiver Van Jefferson. The Commodores marched 98 yards to the UF end zone and scored their first touchdown.
Franks had another turnover in the second quarter, he fumbled on a scramble that led to another Vanderbilt touchdown.
“I had two turnovers today, from just myself at the quarterback position,” Franks said. “That's just the players stressing at me to keep it going and come back out there and play the next play. That's all it's about.”
The Gators were down 21-3 a little over halfway through the second quarter. A Perine touchdown, a Vanderbilt-forced three-and-out and an Evan McPherson field goal sent Florida into halftime down 21-13, but with some momentum.
Then it was all UF from there.
Jefferson’s 38-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter put the Gators down by one, then Scarlett’s score at the start of the fourth quarter gave them the lead.
A touchdown by receiver Freddie Swain and another field goal from McPherson ended Florida’s scoring effort and earning it a 10-point win.
“Just here and there there is the mistake or two we cannot have,” Franks said. “I was a big part of that, throwing the interception, tipped ball, and fumbling down there. That’s not what you want, but at the same time a great job by them having my back, being resilient.”