GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Trask didn’t really know what to call his first touchdown pass of the day.
He thought about it for a few seconds before settling on “kind of a free throw shot.” If so, his last two scores were breakaways dunks.
Trask threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns — the best passing performance by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow’s college finale — and the 10th-ranked Gators overcame a lackluster start to thump Vanderbilt 56-0 Saturday.
“I think we could have put up a lot more,” Trask said.
Florida (8-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) was sluggish early, failing to convert a fourth down on the opening possession against the league’s worst defense, missing a field goal and throwing two interceptions. It looked like another version of the “Cocktail Party Hangover,” which seems to happen every year after losing to rival Georgia in the game dubbed the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
But the Gators responded with their most dominant quarter of the season, turning a 14-0 lead into a laugher in the Swamp. They ended up outgaining Vanderbilt 560-128 and winning their sixth straight in the series and 28th in the last 29 years overall.
“It was a good feeling to get the bad taste out of our mouths,” said safety Donovan Stiner, who had two interceptions in Florida’s third shutout of the season.
Trask completed 25 of 37 passes, with TD passes to Lamical Perine, Trevon Grimes and Kyle Pitts. The junior also ran for a score before giving way to Emory Jones.
Trask stumbled on the one to Perine before delivering an overhand flip for a 1-yard score.
“He’s no Jamelle Holieway,” said coach Dan Mullen, referring to the shifty Oklahoma quarterback from the 1980s.
Maybe not, but Trask’s passing yardage was the most by a Florida quarterback since Tebow threw for 482 yards in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.
He got Florida’s offense rolling with a screen pass to Trevon Grimes on the team’s first play of the second half. Grimes stiff-armed a defender and raced 66 yards for a 21-0 lead.
Trask connected with Tyrie Cleveland and Kyle Pitts on consecutive plays on their next possession, the second one for a 15-yard score. Jon Greenard then scooped up a fumble on the ensuing drive and rumbled 80 yards for a score.
“Shaking out the cobwebs,” Pitt said of the second-half surge.
Freshman Mohamoud Diabate, filling in for injured linebacker Jeremiah Moon, notched three sacks — including one that led to Greenard’s fumble return. And Stiner picked off both Vanderbilt quarterbacks.
Junior Deuce Wallace made his first career start for Vandy but was far from effective. He completed 7 of 18 passes for 60 yards and was sacked six times before giving way to freshman Allan Walters. They were on the field because Mo Hasan and Riley Neal are recovering from concussions.
Vanderbilt had a chance to avoid the shutout, but Ryley Guay badly hooked a 50-yard field goal attempt with 3:54 remaining.
“I just don’t like what I see all the way around,” Commodores coach Derek Mason said. “There are things that have to be changed. We’ll make sure we get it right.”
Vanderbilt: The Commodores entered the weekend with the worst offense and defense in the league. And they’re unlikely to move up after that performance.
Florida: The Gators moved a step closer to double-digit wins for the second straight year. They’ve accomplished that feat 15 times in program history, all of them since 1990.
Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the best player on the league’s worst offense, was penalized for a personal foul for the second consecutive week — both for retaliating the after whistle.
Vaughn pushed safety Jeawon Taylor in the facemask after a no-call on what looked like a late hit. Vaughn trudged off the field, tossed down his helmet, sat near the bench and removed his right shoe.
He finished with 28 yards on 15 carries.
Vanderbilt receiver C.J. Bolar left in the first half after getting walloped near the sideline. Right guard Cole Clemens left early in the third quarter with a left leg injury.
Florida safety Brad Stewart injured his left knee in the first half, was cleared to return and then had to be helped to the locker room on the next possession.
Vanderbilt: Hosts Kentucky next Saturday. The Wildcats have won three straight in the series.
Florida: Plays at Missouri next Saturday. The Gators have dropped two in a row and four of six in the series.
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