Trask, No. 6 Florida overcome slow start to beat Vandy 38-17

NCAA Football

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Kyle Trask passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 6 Florida rallied from an early deficit to beat Vanderbilt 38-17 on Saturday.

The Gators (6-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) pulled into Vanderbilt Stadium an hour before kickoff already in uniform, hoping to avoid the visitors locker room as a coronavirus precaution. The Commodores (0-7, 0-7) opened the game by driving for a touchdown, but Trask helped get Florida on track for its seventh consecutive win in the series.

Trask, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, completed 26 of 35 passes to nine different receivers. He is the first quarterback in SEC history to accrue 30 touchdown passes in seven games.

Vanderbilt drove 75 yards on 11 plays in the opening series, scoring on Ken Seals’ 16-yard pass to Chris Pierce Jr. with 10:50 left in the first quarter.

The Gators tied it less than three minutes later. Trask found wider receiver Kadarius Toney wide open around the 15-yard line, and Toney carried the ball in the end zone to complete a 27-yard play at 7:47.

Vanderbilt countered with Pierson Cooke’s 25-yard field goal on the next drive, and the Gators tied it at 10 when Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yarder at 4:13 of the second quarter.

Trask threw a 34-yard TD pass to Trevon Grimes with 49 seconds left until halftime for a 17-10 lead, and Dameon Price rushed in from a yard out for a 24-10 advantage early in the second half.

With 2:55 left in the third, Trask found tight end Kemore Gamble in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Vanderbilt answered 54 seconds later with a 58-yard pass from Seals to Pierce, who caught the ball around the Florida 45-yard line and eluded two tackle attempts on his way to the end zone. It was the longest touchdown catch for Pierce in his career, and the longest TD throw for Seals.

Florida struck again at 6:46 of the fourth quarter with Emory Jones completing a 30-yard pass to Gamble, his second of the game.

Seals set a Vanderbilt record for passing yards by a freshman, besting the 1,483 yards thrown by John Gromos in 1985. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 319 yards, his fourth straight game with 200 or more yards and his third in the last four with more than 250. It was the third time this season he has passed for at least 300 yards.

SMALL CROWD

Family and friends of players and a few Vanderbilt graduate and professional students attended the game. Vanderbilt made 500 tickets available for family members of Florida players. Vanderbilt’s band, flag corps and cheerleaders were in the stands on the visiting team side of the field.

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida: The Gators usually arrive two hours before kickoff but chose to arrive late Saturday. Coach Dan Mullen told the ESPN pregame show the players dressed in their uniforms. They did not enter the dressing room even for halftime.

Vanderbilt: Chris Pierce Jr. has touchdown catches in his last four games, the first time for the Commodores since Chris Boyd accomplished the feat from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17 of 2012. He became the first Commodore since Jared Pinckney to catch two touchdown passes in a game. Pinckney snared two again East Tennessee State Nov. 23, 2019. The last Commodore with two touchdown passes in an SEC game was Kalija Lipscomb against Ole Miss on Nov. 17, 2018.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

While it wasn’t the dominant victory anticipated by the Gators, the win is a key to a move up the polls. Texas A&M, ranked No. 5, did not play this week.

UP NEXT:

Florida: Hosts SEC opponent Kentucky on Saturday.

Vanderbilt: Hosts Tennessee in SEC game Saturday.

More AP college football coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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