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Three sacks part of a big game for Florida freshman Mohamoud Diabate

Journal: One of Diabate’s sacks is also a turnover that sets up a Gators touchdown.
Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, here against Tennessee earlier this season, says “I’m proud of myself’’ after leading Florida’s defensive domination vs. Vanderbilt. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Nov. 10

GAINESVILLE — Mohamoud Diabate played a key role in the Gators shutting out their first conference opponent since Kentucky in 2012.

The freshman led Florida with three sacks in Saturday afternoon’s 56-0 dismantling of Vanderbilt. That’s the most sacks he’s had in a game since high school (Auburn, Ala.) — and it was two sacks ahead of the next-best guys on the field.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “It was a pretty good performance, and I’m proud of myself for it.”

He came in having logged a half sack against Towson in the fifth game of the season. His three Saturday all came on third down, and the Gators combined for six sacks and five tackles for loss.

“I feel like Coach (Todd) Grantham called a good game, plus my DBs had great coverage,” the linebacker said. “All of that stuff helped me do what I was able to do.”

On Florida’s fifth touchdown, Diabate escaped the arms of many Commodores to find Deuce Wallace hiding in the pocket. He wrapped his arms around Wallace as the Vanderbilt quarterback drew back his arm to throw, stripping him of the ball. And it didn’t take long for linebacker Jonathan Greenard to scoop up the fumble for an 80-yard touchdown return, putting Florida up 35-0.

“I didn’t actually know (I caused the fumble) until I heard everyone cheering. I thought they were cheering for the sack, and then I saw Greenard running,” Diabate said with a chuckle. “I was like, snap, let me run, too. So I started chasing, but he was going pretty fast, so I couldn’t get him, so I just turned to the sidelines and started celebrating.”

Diabate was just looking for the sack to get the Commodores out of field-goal range, but he noticed the right-handed quarterback wasn’t looking and pounced on the opportunity to blindside him on the rush.

It was that kind of effort and mentality that kept Vanderbilt 0-for-7 on third-down conversions to start the game.

“That gave us confidence because we’re like, we’re stopping these boys,” Diabate said. “One down and then it’s like dominos, one, two, three, four, five …We got this. We’re locking them up.”

Locals make some headway

Former Cambridge Christian and Calvary Christian offensive linemen Richard Gouraige and Ethan White made their first collegiate starts at guard.

Gouriage, a redshirt freshman, has logged playing time in every game (with the exception of Florida’s Week 0 matchup against Miami). Saturday was White’s third game of the season following some snaps against UT Martin and Towson.

Coach Dan Mullen said he’ll go back and watch their starts on film this week.

“What I didn’t see was anything negative,” Mullen said. “I mean to me, just in that walking off the field that those guys did a heck of a job. You know, having to come in and fill in and play with confidence.”

Staying in the spotlight

Former Florida men’s indoor track and field star Grant Holloway was honored alongside his teammates for their 2018 national title. It was the program’s fifth title.

Earlier this month, Holloway won gold in the 110-meter hurdles in 12.98 seconds at the IAAF World Championship, breaking Renaldo Nehemiah’s 40-year-old record.

Grant, who has won six SEC titles, is a 4x100 relay collegiate record holder (37.97) and an eight-time NCAA champion, a school record. And he’s the only man in collegiate history to win three straight indoor and outdoor high hurdles titles.

Holloway, along with coach Mike Holloway (no relation), will be part of a town meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Harn Museum in Gainesville. The event is co-sponsored by Florida and ESPN’s The Undefeated, focusing on the intersection between sport, social justice and the media.

The other attendees include: Countryside High alumnus A.J. Andrews, professional softball player; Michelle Carter, three-time Olympian and World Championship gold medalist; Artis Gilmore, retired ABA and NBA player; Marcus Pollard, director of player engagement and youth football Jacksonville Jaguars; Jason Reid, senior NFL writer and The Undefeated panel moderator; Ethan Thomas, retired NBA player; Tom Wasdin, retired NCAA basketball coach; and Nathan Whitaker, a Gainesville resident who is a New York Times best-selling author.

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