Vanderbilt rose above a slow start behind a huge defensive effort and some composed offensive plays to beat Missouri on the road 19-15 on Saturday night.
The 'Dores came back from an early 6-0 deficit to earn their first SEC and FBS win of the season. Jordan Rodgers shook off early problems to put together an efficient game, and Zac Stacy came up huge when the team needed him to carry Vandy to a big road win. However, the story of this game was Vanderbilt's dominance over a Missouri offense that was without starting quarterback James Franklin for most of the game.
The game was an uncharacteristically sloppy matchup between SEC schools. Vandy's offense failed to click early in the game, not getting a first down until late in the second quarter. Mizzou was equally lost once they lost Franklin to a knee injury. Together, the two put together a game that was dictated early on by punters and field position more than any other factor.
That cleared up in the fourth quarter as each team started to find their rhythm. The 'Dores went up 16-9 early in the period thanks to a five-play, 74-yard drive that featured a handoff to Jordan Matthews and a pass from Stacy to Rodgers that both moved the chains. Zac Stacy capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown, but got his bell rung as he broke into the end zone.
Mizzou answered on the following drive. A big Chase Garnham sack left the Tigers with a 3rd-and-22 at their own 15, but backup Corbin Berkstresser (real name) found Bud Sasser (also a real name) behind Vandy's busted coverage for a monster 85 yard touchdown pass. The Tigers would miss the extra point to bring the score to 16-15.
Vandy would respond with a field goal on their next drive, pushing the lead to 19-15 thanks in part to a 40 yard jump ball completion from Rodgers to Chris Boyd on a key third down inside Mizzou territory.
The Tigers threatened on their next drive, but that missed extra point came back to haunt them. Missouri drove to the Vandy 25, but the 'Dores pass rush proved to be too much for Berkstresser. A huge push from the Vandy front line gave the Tigers no chance to move the ball, and a turnover on downs put the ball back in Zac Stacy's hands.
Stacy made his opponents pay. He ripped off a huge 13 yard run on 3rd and nine to effectively close out the game. The win improved the 'Dores to 2-3 overall and kept Missouri from their first ever SEC conference victory. Vanderbilt will have momentum on their side before hosting a red hot Florida team this weekend at Dudley Field.