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Florida pulls away from struggling Vanderbilt

Quarterback Graham Mertz led a balanced offensive attack that accounted for 495 yards, leading the Florida Gators to a 38-14 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.

Mertz was 30-of-36 passing for 254 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Seven completions went to Arlis Boardingham for 99 yards and two scores.

Running back Montrell Johnson, subbing for injured starter Trevor Etienne, had 160 yards from scrimmage and rushed for 135 yards and a score. The Gators rushed for 215 yards.

The Commodores (2-5, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) were just 1 of 10 on third downs and failed to convert three times on fourth down, which included a first-half fumble by Quincy Skinner Jr. just after the receiver had gained a first down.

The Gators (4-2, 2-1) extended their lead to 28-7 when Mertz hit Eugene Wilson III with a 9-yard scoring toss with 3:16 left in the third quarter.

Vandy’s Ken Seals (19 of 34, two touchdowns, no picks) hit Richie Hoskins with a 21-yard touchdown throw with 44 seconds left in the third quarter — the first TD catch of walk-on Hoskins’ career — to pull the Commodores within 14.

But Florida’s Trey Smack converted a 40-yard field goal with 12:12 remaining in regulation and Boardingham added a 15-yard catch-and-run from Mertz with 7:19 left to put the game away.

Florida led 21-7 half thanks to a 13-7 edge in first downs and Johnson’s 118 yards from scrimmage. His 7-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds left in the half gave the Gators their first double-digit lead of the day.

Florida drove 93 yards in nine plays and scored first when Ricky Pearsall took an end-around and scooted 14 yards for a score with 9:05 left in the first quarter.

Vandy struck back when CJ Taylor intercepted a pass from Florida wide receiver Khaleil Jackson at the Commodore 11, setting up Seals’ 85-yard scoring strike to Will Sheppard two plays later to tie the game.

But Mertz answered with a 2-yard scoring strike to Boardingham. Vandy had a shot to tie later in the quarter, but a fourth-and-goal try from the Gator 4 failed.

–Field Level Media

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