It looked like the Vanderbilt Commodores had turned a corner when they hung 21 points on Kentucky in the first half of last week's win. On Saturday, they backed the car up, rammed it through the intersection, then bailed out as it careened into a ditch and exploded in a 25-0 loss to Texas A&M.
Vanderbilt couldn't get anything going offensively, and their two deepest drives into A&M territory ended in penalties or sacks that pulled them out of field goal range. The end result was their second shutout loss of the year.
Kyle Shurmur and Johnny McCrary split snaps at quarterback, but combined to complete just five of their 16 passes for 23 (TWENTY THREE!) yards and an interception. Ralph Webb went over 1,000 yards for the season, but A&M was ready for him. The Commodore tailback gained only 79 yards on 25 carries in the loss.
Vanderbilt's opponent got out to an early 3-0 lead for the second straight week. Texas A&M gained 47 yards on their first two plays to set up camp deep in Commodore territory, but a strong red zone stand forced them into a 31-yard Taylor Bertolet field goal that barely sneaked inside the uprights. The 'Dores responded with a six-minute drive on the next possession, but a false start, sack, and bad snap drove the team from field goal range and forced a Vandy punt. A&M couldn't do anything there, but they earned a big opportunity when four different players broke through VU's blocking scheme to block a Tommy Openshaw punt and recover at the VU 13-yard line. The Vandy defense held strong, stopping Tra Carson on third-and-one for a three-yard loss and forcing a 25-yard kick that made it 6-0 Aggies at the end of the first quarter.
The two teams exchanged failed drives before A&M turned a third-and-nine scenario into a 95-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Josh Reynolds. Vanderbilt came back punching by putting the ball in Kyle Shurmur's hands, but the freshman's first pass was picked off by De'Vante Harris and gave the Aggies another scoring opportunity. They couldn't capitalize -Bertolet's 35-yard field goal attempt was no good - but a Vandy three-and-out gave the A&M kicked another chance to add points as the clock wound down. He drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired to make it 16-0 Texas A&M at the half.
Vandy's bend-don't-break defense forced a fourth Bertolet field goal when he booted a 46-yarder on A&M's first possession of the second half to make it 19-0. A set of Commodore three-and-outs teed him up for a 41-yard attempt late in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 22-0. Things got real repetitive six minutes later when he pushed a 23-yard kick through to make it 25-0. The Aggies pushed eight different drives into Vanderbilt territory but failed to score a touchdown on any of them. That was little consolation for a Commodore team that watched their bowl hopes evaporate in clear cut defeat.
The Commodores fell to 4-7 (2-5 SEC) with the loss). Texas A&M improved to 8-3 (4-3) with the win. Vanderbilt will return to the field on Saturday when they travel down I-40 to face THEM.