Last-minute comeback makes Commodores bowl-eligible again

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 11:21pm
Staff reports

Chris Boyd’s 26-yard touchdown reception with 52 seconds to play put Vanderbilt ahead for the first time and — more importantly — into a bowl game for the second straight season and the third time in five years.

The Commodores (6-4, 4-3 in the Southeastern Conference) overcame a 17-point second-half deficit in a battle of five-win teams and defeated Ole Miss 27-26 Saturday at Oxford, Miss. They also, however, lost all-time leading rusher Zac Stacy to a knee injury on the second play of the contest.

The game-winning score capped a nine-play, 79-yard drive that included Vanderbilt’s 12th fourth-down conversion of the season. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers scrambled for three yards on fourth-and-2 from the Commodores’ 46. Four plays later, he connected with Boyd down the left sideline and the junior wide receiver raced untouched into the end zone.

"We've been working on emphasizing the two-minute drill in practice, and the last couple of weeks we've been getting down and scoring," Rodger said. "So it's good to see that translate to real-life game situations."

Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4) got to the Vanderbilt 48 in the closing seconds but its chance to answer ended when quarterback Bo Wallace threw incomplete on fourth-and-7 with 14 seconds to play.

Rodgers was 5-for-6 on the final drive and finished with 20 completions on 35 attempts, 267 yards passing and two touchdowns. Jordan Matthews caught nine passes for 153 yards and a touchdown, and Boyd added five receptions for 64 yards. Wesley Tate was the leading rusher with 43 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.

Wallace completed 31 of 49 passes for 403 yards with a touchdown and scored on a one-yard run that made it 23-6 with 11:42 to play in the third quarter. James Logan had a game-high 160 yards on eight receptions.

The Commodores struggled after the injury to Stacy, who also lost a fumble when he was hurt on a 16-yard run. They failed to convert on third down in the first half (six opportunities) and had just 128 yards of total offense through two quarters.

They failed to score a first-half touchdown for just the second time this season but did take advantage of an offside call against the Rebels, which allowed Carey Spear to attempt — and make — a 44-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

"We didn't have any doubt at all," Boyd said. "We knew we didn't play very well in the first half, so we knew as long as we did what we were supposed to do, we would fix what happened. It's all about how mentally tough we are. We came out in the second half much more mentally prepared, and it paid off."

With the victory, they became bowl eligible with a pair of game games still to play (Tennessee and Wake Forest). They also won at least four conference games for just the 10th time.

12 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 11/11/12 at 4:16

This victory was huge. I don't remember over the last 60 years Vanderbilt ever coming back after being down so far against an SEC team.

Of course with Vandy you always get a downside. The loss of Stacy puts both the Tenn annd the Wake game in peril.

By: Blip on 11/11/12 at 6:20

It was a thrill to listen to the game via radio here in East Tn, on 1510 AM (that wasn't possible until this year with the switch to a clear channel station). Such a dismal beginning with the fumble, Stacy injury, and Ol Miss touchdown, a persistent, inching climb by Vanderbilt, getting back into the game, and a thrilling finish. Appreciate the much improved Mississippi squad and their excellent coach Freeze, and am awed by the effort and win by the Vanderbilt squad.

By: govskeptic on 11/11/12 at 6:26

This coming weekend may provide a couple of first for both teams. A victory by the
Commodores in Nashville for the first time in many many years over my beloved
Vols. Secondly, the first time in decades the UT leadership making a wise decision
to rid themselves of a coach after just a few yrs that is in way over his head as
well as 95% of his staff's. It's our turn to use the Vandy slogan "Wait till next yr."

By: Fairwin on 11/11/12 at 6:49

Same old Vandy

By: wiseguy1 on 11/11/12 at 11:40

Do not be provoked by this un-fair character.

By: joe41 on 11/11/12 at 11:50

Lets not forget that Vandy scored 27 points after Stacy was injured. I know we will miss Zac's running but we still beat Mississippi without his play.

By: wiseguy1 on 11/11/12 at 11:58

Blip ... thrill came in the last three minutes, literally. Thrill isn't exactly what I was thinking while watching the first 57 minutes of the game. Score more than 17 and what do you get? A W.

Kudos to D for awesome effort. Holding OM to FGs was huge. I figured they would be spent in 4th qtr after OM kept ball 11:09 in second quarter. Kept finding a way to get a stop though. Would like to have seen Hal (or Wilson?) catch the quick out on OM first possession. Not exactly sure how he didn't catch it.

Good win, and without Stacy. Several times it would have been helpful to have him with the ball. First time in a long time I can remember being on the high side of scoreboard and low side of stats.

For those interested, the realtime rpi guys changed their forecast to win out versus going 1-2 in the last 3. Footnote here is they were wrong about losing to OM.

Franklin rattled off several firsts in his post game interview ... how long has it been that VU has been odds favorite in UT game? Maybe that tidbit will come out in articles this week.

By: ljmilleracm on 11/11/12 at 1:10

A GREAT evening in Oxford!

Any word on extent of Stacy's injury?

By: 4gold on 11/11/12 at 5:02

Wow what a comeback. Exciting for sure but geeez how many 3rd and longs did the D givie up? 3rd and 11, 3rd and 11, 3rd and 15, 3rd and 21, 3rd and 29 from OM's 10. So frustrating and wonder if they are going to prevent mode on 3rd and long? What ever it is they need a new 3rd down defensive plan. It was fun to see Aaron Rodgers so excited, jumping up and down signaling touch down on Rodgers to Boyd last play. Seeing the human side of an NFL star pulling for his bro.

Not getting too excited yet though. Don't know if VU can score enough points to stay with UT. Weak pass rush and no interceptions from the secondary? Tough match up for VU. Sure wish VU could catch the beer bottle tosser on a bad day.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: 4gold on 11/11/12 at 5:04

Don't know how bad Stacy is but at least we have Tate and Kimbro that have been doing a good job. Pretty deep at running back. Get Well Soon Zac.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: wiseguy1 on 11/12/12 at 8:17

Likely not to know with Franklin's "Injuries? What injuries." reporting.

Also interested in Joe Townsend. Apparently VU has more depth at RB than OL.

By: TITAN1 on 11/12/12 at 10:56

Great game, Vandy! Now, get ready for the vols! GO, VANDY!