Saturday November 9, 2002Football Defeats Vanderbilt 21-17
Ran Carthon rushed for 83 yards and touchdown
Florida made a pivotal fourth down stand with a little over 90 seconds to play in the game, as the Gators ran their win streak to three straight games (7-3 overall, 5-2 in the SEC) with a hard fought 21-17 win over Vanderbilt, Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
The Gators' defense turned in another solid performance, holding Vanderbilt to only 94 yards passing and sacking quarterback Jay Cutler twice.
Vanderbilt had the ball with 5:30 left to go in the game and converted one first down before the Gators stopped the Commodores on their own 39-yard line to preserve the win.
The defense got things going early on as sophomore safety Cory Bailey (Miami, Fla.) was responsible for the Gators' first score, as he made his first career interception and returned it 24 yards to the Commodores' one-yard line with 12:10 left in the first quarter. It was the second straight week that a Gator defensive back made his first career interception, as junior safety Guss Scott (Jacksonville, Fla.) made his first career pick against Georgia last weekend, which he returned for a touchdown.
Senior running back Earnest Graham (Ft. Myers, Fla.) put Florida on the board first on the very next play with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Gators a 7-0 lead. Graham had an outstanding game, as he topped the 100-yard mark for the third time this season with 125 yards on 24 carries. He also moved into a tie for third-place with Fred Taylor in UF history with 31 rushing touchdowns. Graham is only five rushing touchdowns shy of Emmitt Smith's school-record of 36.
Vanderbilt responded with a Greg Johnson 40-yard field goal on Vanderbilt's next possession to cut Florida's lead to 7-3. The Commodores had the ball inside the Gators' 25-yard line late in the first quarter, but were denied when Guss Scott intercepted his second pass in as many games.
Florida responded on their next possession and added to their lead with a Ran Carthon (Key West, Fla.) one-yard plunge over the right side of his offensive line to give the Gators a 14-3 lead. Carthon was the other half of Florida's one-two rushing punch, as he picked up 83 yards on 14 carries -- both season-highs.
Vanderbilt would make it 14-10 midway through the second quarter with a Matthew Tant one-yard touchdown run. But Florida responded with a Rex Grossman (Bloomington, Ind.) one-yard touchdown run of his own to make it 21-10 at the half. Vandy made it 21-17 with the only score of the second half with a third quarter, Cutler one-yard run.
Florida will be back in action next Saturday, Nov. 16 as the Gators host South Carolina in their homecoming game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.