2:00 PM ET, November 6, 2004
Vanderbilt Stadium, NASHVILLE, TN
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Chris Leak ran for a touchdown and threw for two more, and Florida snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Vanderbilt 34-17 Saturday for its 14th straight victory in this series.
The Gators (5-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) gave coach Ron Zook his first victory since being fired on Oct. 25, and they avoided losing a third straight game for the first time since the end of the 1999 season.
Leak was 22-of-29 for 307 yards, and Ciatrick Fason ran 26 times for 170 yards and a touchdown as Florida outgained Vandy 500-372 in total offense despite the Commodores holding the ball for 34 minutes.
But the Gators couldn't have started the game with less emotion, turning the ball over four times in the first 25 minutes. They hurt themselves repeatedly with 12 penalties for 108 yards, once even erasing a touchdown with a personal foul.
Luckily, Florida was playing Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5), which converted those turnovers into 17 points but couldn't get into the end zone on its own.
The Commodores' best chance to beat Florida for the first time since 1988 came when they drove from their own 7 to the Gators 10 trailing 24-17. But Vanderbilt bogged down and Patrick Johnson missed a 38-yard field goal short into a brisk wind.
Vanderbilt had one final chance to score in the final seconds only to turn the ball over on downs at the Florida 5.
Leak put Florida up for good by shaking off the penalty that erased his 11-yard TD pass to Chad Jackson by finding Tate Casey on the next play for a 26-yard TD with 11:36 left in the third quarter. Leak he padded the lead with a 35-yarder to Dallas Baker in the fourth.
Fason became the seventh Florida running back to top 1,000 yards in a season and the fourth-quickest, doing it in just nine games.
Matt Leach added field goals of 49 and 47 yards for Florida.
Vanderbilt led 17-14 at halftime despite losing starting quarterback Jay Cutler at the end of its first drive. He sprained his right ankle when sacked by Marcus Thomas, who had two sacks. Bright only threw three passes, completing only one for 8 yards, in the first half.
Moses Osemwegie fell on a fumble after Kevin Joyce sacked Leak and knocked the ball loose in the end zone for a 10-0 lead. Norval McKenzie scored his first TD of the season on a 19-yard run, making it 17-7 midway through the second quarter.
Leak completed his first 10 passes, and he almost single-handedly kept the Gators in the game by setting up their first TD and diving over for a 2-yard TD himself just before halftime.
But in a play that symbolized Florida's troubles, a Leak pass into the wind to Andre Caldwell bounced off the receiver's hands and to Vandy cornerback Bill Alford at the Commodores' 7 for the Gators' fourth turnover.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-10||9-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-2|
|FG||6:19||PATRICK JOHNSON 33 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||5:10||MOSES OSEMWEGIE 0 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (PATRICK JOHNSON KICK)||0||10|
|TD||1:59||CIATRICK FASON 4 YD RUN (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||8:10||NORVAL MCKENZIE 19 YD RUN (PATRICK JOHNSON KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 40 yards.
|TD||0:10||CHRIS LEAK 2 YD RUN (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 48 yards.
|TD||11:36||TATE CASEY 26 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||2:59||MATT LEACH 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 49 yards.
|TD||7:29||DALLAS BAKER 35 YD PASS FROM CHRIS LEAK (MATT LEACH KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 79 yards.
|FG||2:29||MATT LEACH 47 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 10 yards.