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Vanderbilt's Comeback Effort Falls Short in Loss to Florida, 26-21

Rick Lowe was Vandebrilt's most effective tackler in the first half against Florida Saturday.
Rick Lowe was Vandebrilt's most effective tackler in the first half against Florida Saturday.

The ghosts of 1945 will have to wait another two years for a Vanderbilt win in the swamp.

Vanderbilt's comeback fell short in Gainesville as the Florida Gators beat the 'Dores 26-21 Saturday afternoon.The loss overshadowed a great performance by redshirt junior Jordan Rodgers. Rodgers, in his third start at quarterback, put together a confident second half and passed for a personal-best 291 yards, accounting for all three Commodore touchdowns.

The first half of the game was all Florida, as the Gators carved up the Vanderbilt defense to jump to a 17-0 lead. Only an Omarius Hines fumble at the goal line kept the contest from getting out of hand early in Gainesville. The Commodores put together some solid drives in the frame but were undone by sloppy penalties and poor special teams play that kept the team off the board.

Vanderbilt came out strong in the second half to turn what looked like a blowout into a tight game. The Commodores, led by Rodgers's arm, came back to pull within six points of the Gators midway through the fourth quarter. Rodgers found Jordan Matthews wide open for a 26 yard touchdown to put the 'Dores on the board. After Florida responded with a field goal, Vandy drove 60 yards to make the contest a one-possession game. Rodgers's eight-yard run kept Gator fans in their seats for the duration of Saturday's game.

The Commodores held on defense to get the ball back and marched into Florida territory with a chance to take the lead. The drive stalled when a Rodgers pass to Matthews fell incomplete, seemingly due to an early push that could easily have been a pass interference call. No flags came, and the Gators ended up with the ball after a Richard Kent punt.

Florida sealed the game with 2:13 to play when Jeffery Demps faked Kenny Ladler out of his jock during a 51 yard touchdown run on a key third-and-one play. The 'Dores drove 80 yards to give the team a chance to win behind a 26 yard Chris Boyd touchdown catch, but the ensuing onside kick fell into Gator hands.

The loss dropped Vanderbilt to 4-5 on the season and 1-5 in SEC play. Florida snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. Zac Stacy's streak of 100 yard rushing games ended at two, as he was limited to just 50 yards on 14 carries.