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Vanderbilt Breaks Through, Beats Georgia 17-16 in Athens

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Derek Mason gets his first SEC road win.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For a while, it looked like an early touchdown might hold up.

Darrius Sims took the opening kickoff back 95 yards, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Ralph Webb two plays later that gave Vanderbilt an early 7-0. And then the Commodores settled in for a slog: while the offense only gained 64 yards in the first half, Vanderbilt took a 7-6 lead into the locker room thanks to bottling up the run game (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 37 yards on 20 carries before halftime) and forcing the Bulldogs to settle for field goals.

And then, for once, Vanderbilt’s strategy of putting the kickoff in the corner worked. Georgia return man Reggie Davis stepped out of bounds at his own 3, Georgia went three-and-out, and Vanderbilt took possession at the Georgia 27. That resulted in a field goal to make it 10-6.

But after Georgia finally found paydirt on Jacob Eason’s 17-yard pass to Isaac Nauta, and a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to make it 16-10, Vanderbilt put together an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by a Khari Blasingame touchdown run to take a 17-16 lead.

And that was enough to hold up. Georgia failed to convert a 4th-and-1 as Zach Cunningham made a stop with under a minute left, and Vanderbilt ran out the clock to pick up their first SEC win of the season, and the first SEC road win of Derek Mason’s career.

Vanderbilt was outgained 421-171 but did manage to hold Georgia to 75 rushing yards on 35 carries.