GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the third straight game, Florida dug itself an early hole that was way too deep to climb from.
And this time, it was at home.
While Vanderbilt tailback Jerron Seymour was scoring three touchdowns, UF quarterback Tyler Murphy was turning the ball over four times and the Commodores were making history with a 34-17 defeat of the Gators in their homecoming game at the "Swamp."
The loss was the fourth straight for UF (4-5, 3-4) and dropped the Gators under .500 after nine games for the first time since 1979, the last time program finished with a losing record. The Commodores (5-4, 2-4), meanwhile, snapped a 22-game losing streak in the series and won for the first time in Gainesville since 1945.
The defeat also ended a 13-game home winning streak for the Gators.
UF needs to win two of its next three games to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time since 1990. Two of those three games are against South Carolina on the road and home against undefeated Florida State.
Florida outgunned Vandy in total yards for the game 340-183, but the turnovers were killers. Murphy finished 30 of 46 for a career-high 305 yards, throwing a late touchdown pass of 11 yards to true freshman Ahmad Fullwood, but he also threw three interceptions and fumbled once.
Commodores quarterback Patton Robinette completed just six passes for a measly 57 yards. Seymour ran for only 62. But Vandy didn't need any more, mostly because of UF's generosity.
Vandy scored on the game's opening possession, the third straight UF opponent to get on the board first, as the Commodores drove 14 plays and 62 yards to a 31-yard field goal from Taylor Hudson.
After that, three Murphy interceptions in minus-territory set up a trio of Vandy touchdowns on drives of just 10, 22 and 4 yards, as the Commodores seized a 24-3 barely two minutes into the second half.
Murphy's third interception of the game came on the third play of the second half, a pass thrown behind intended receiver Trey Burton that caromed into the arms of safety Andrew Williams and returned to the UF 4. Seymour scored out of the wildcat formation with a 2-yard yard touchdown run to send the Gators into a 21-point hole.
In all four of their losses during the four-game streak, UF trailed by double-digits in the first half. The only points the Gators could muster through the game's first 26 1/2 minutes was a 23-yard field goal from senior Brad Phillips, but even that came after Florida had a first-and-goal at the Vanderbilt 1.
Vandy's Taylor Hudson booted a 31-yarder after his offense chewed up nearly half the first period on the game's first drive to give the Commodores an early 3-0 lead, with quarterback Patton Robinette converting both a fourth-and-1 and third-and-10 on keepers.
On UF's second offensive possession, quarterback Murphy sailed a pass high that was intercepted by cornerback Andre Hal and returned 20 yards to the Florida 10. It took Vandy one play to score, with Seymour dragging UF defenders into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run with three seconds left in the quarter.
The Gators defense, which has been on the field most of the first half, forced a Vanderbilt punt that Marcus Roberson returned to the UF 44, only to be called back on a holding penalty that started UF on its own 15. On first down, Murphy was hit trying to chuck the ball deep down the middle of the field. Commodores safety Kenny Ladler easily intercepted the ball and returned it 28 yards to the UF 22.
Robinette scored four plays later on a 5-yard run to make it 17-0 midway through the second period.
The Gators had a chance to score on their first possession, marching to the Vandy 24. But the next three plays netted minus-4 yards and Austin Hardin was wide right on a 45-yard field goal attempt.
UF had its first-and-goal opportunity late in the first half, but Murphy's poor pitch on a first-down option lost five yards. The next two plays were incompletions, with the Gators opting for the field and using Phillips instead of Hardin.
Last week, UF fell behind Georgia 14-0 after two possessions, and two weeks before that allowed Missouri to go 76 yards in two plays on its opening drive. In the loss at LSU that started the current string of defeats, Florida trailed 14-3 at halftime.
All told, UF has been outscored 37-6 in the first quarter over the last four games.