Vanderbilt Overcomes Turnovers, Sloppy Play in 14-10 Comeback Win Over Tennessee

All the bourbon. - Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt won a terrible football game Saturday night. But that doesn't matter, because they beat Tennessee, and all is right with the world.

Vanderbilt scored first. Vanderbilt scored last. That was all they needed to defeat arch rival Tennessee.

The Commodores couldn't get out of their own way for most of the game, but they came up big when it counted to topple the Volunteers in Knoxville, 14-10. Patton Robinette ran five yards off of a fake jump-pass draw play to deliver a monster win and a winning season for Vandy in 2013.

The 'Dores won a sloppy affair that featured turnovers, botched special teams plays, and ultra conservative playcalling on both sides. Neither team looked good in the contest, but James Franklin's team got big plays from Jonathan Krause and Jordan Matthews when they needed them the most to deliver a nailbiting win that kept UT from a bowl game this winter.

Vandy trailed 10-7 when they got the ball back with 4:16 left, but they faced long odds thanks to an offense that failed to gain yards all evening. However, coach James Franklin made it a point to open up the playbook, finding receivers Krause and Matthews for big gains that set the 'Dores up in Tennessee territory. It looked as though the game was over when Austyn Carta-Samuels's fourth-and-inches QB sneak was marked short of the first-down marker, but an official review gave Vandy the first down they deserved and a chance to win this game in regulation.

One play later, "ACS" hit Jordan Matthews for a 25-yard gain that set Vandy up with a first-and-goal opportunity. A Carta-Samuels run brought the ball down to the UT five, and Patton Robinette took the ensuing snap, faked a jump pass, and ran into the end zone to give the 'Dores a 14-10 lead.

Tennessee drove to midfield to give the home team a chance to win the game on their final play, but Joshua Dobbs's Hail Mary fell to the turf despite getting past several Commodore defenders.

Matthews set the SEC All-Time record for career receptions in the win, breaking Earl Bennett's mark. Matthews had 13 catches for 133 yards for the night.

Tennessee took advantage of a Vanderbilt defense that was missing all four starters from its secondary by the time the second half rolled around. The 'Dores lost Andre Hal, Javon Marshall, and Steven Clarke to injuries, while Kenny Ladler, who had an interception and a forced fumble in the first half, was ejected from the game after picking up a targeting penalty that negated a third-and-long stand from the Vandy D.

The first half was a sloppy affair in which both teams looked bad. Vandy coughed the ball up three times - including once at the UT four-yard line - to give Tennessee several opportunities to take an early lead. The Volunteers weren't much better, giving the ball back on a pair of Joshua Dobbs interceptions and failing to earn any points from Vandy's turnovers. Tennessee also missed a 33-yard field goal when Adam Butler broke through the line to tip the ball and send it wide left.

The victory ensures a winning record for the Commodores, who improved to 7-4 on the season. Tennessee fell to 4-7. Vanderbilt will return to action next week on Senior Day when they host Wake Forest in Nashville.

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