Lamical Perine scored three touchdowns, Malik Davis added two and No. 21 Florida beat Vanderbilt 38-24 on Saturday despite losing quarterback Luke Del Rio for the season with a broken left collarbone.
Coach Jim McElwain says Del Rio will have season-ending surgery Monday. It’s the second straight year Del Rio failed to make it through the season uninjured.
Perine bookended two one-yard plunges around a 13-yard scamper as the Gators remained unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play and defeated the Commodores for the 26th time in the last 27 meetings.
Perine, a cousin of former Oklahoma and current Washington Redskins running back Samaje Perine, finished with 58 yards on 15 carries.
Davis, a freshman, ran 17 times for 124 yards. His final run was huge. On a fourth-down play, Davis broke through the line, stumbled and then regained his footing for a 39-yard score that sealed the victory.
Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks replaced Del Rio in the second quarter and turned in his most effective performance of the season. Franks completed 10 of 14 passes for 185 yards, including a 49-yarder to Tyrie Cleveland that was nearly as perfect as his last pass in The Swamp.
Franks and Cleveland hooked up for a 63-yarder on the final play to beat Tennessee 26-20 two weeks ago. Franks was benched last week at Kentucky, pulled for the second time in three games, and replaced by Del Rio.
Del Rio rallied the Gators to a 28-27 victory against the Wildcats and was named the starter Monday. His first start in nearly 11 months ended the same way as his last one — in the locker room and injured.
Del Rio rolled right to avoid Dare Odeyingbo, completed a pass to Brandon Powell and then got knocked to the ground. Del Rio was favoring his left shoulder as he walked off the field and later to the locker room.
The son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio started six games last year before sustaining a season-ending injury to his right, throwing shoulder. Del Rio also partly tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and tore the labrum in his left shoulder. He had offseason surgery on both shoulders.
Del Rio was 7-of-11 passing for 64 yards.
The Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC) and Vanderbilt played a tight game for the third consecutive year. That was an improvement for the Commodores (3-2, 0-2) after a 59-0 home loss to top-ranked Alabama a week ago.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores showed glimpses on both sides of the ball, but don’t seem to have the talent and depth to compete consistently with the SEC heavyweights.
Florida: The Gators improved to 16-3 in SEC regular-season games under McElwain. Winning close games has become his trademark.
The Gators tied an NCAA record by scoring in their 365th consecutive game.
Perine’s first touchdown run came on Florida’s second possession and tied the NCAA mark set by Michigan between 1984 and 2014. The Wolverines played 365 games over 30 years without being shut out. Michigan’s streak ended with a 31-0 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 6, 2014.
Florida hasn’t been shut out since a 16-0 home loss to Auburn on Oct. 29, 1988. The Gators can break the record next week against LSU.
Vanderbilt: Hosts No. 7 Georgia, looking for a considerably better showing than its last home game (59-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama).
Florida: Hosts LSU in the second of three consecutive games at Florida Field. The game was initially scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but was moved to Gainesville last year because of Hurricane Matthew.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.