Bowl eligible again: Vandy beats Kentucky 22-6
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
The Vanderbilt Commodores just keep making history, and this time they've become eligible for a third straight bowl game for the first time in the program's history, all under coach James Franklin.
Brian Kimbrow scored on a 21-yard run, and Vanderbilt beat Kentucky 22-6 Saturday.
Vanderbilt had been to only four bowls before Franklin took over. Now the Commodores (6-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) have won two with two games remaining in the regular season, and bowl eligibility means they will have a chance to match last year's 9-4 record that was their best since 1915.
Jordan Matthews caught 12 passes for 141 yards in becoming the first Vanderbilt receiver with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Andre Hal had one of Vanderbilt's four interceptions, and Patton Robinette sealed the win with a 13-yard TD pass to Kris Kentera with 47 seconds left.
Kentucky (2-8, 0-6) lost its 14th straight SEC game. The Wildcats never scored after Jojo Kemp's 2-yard TD on the opening drive.
Vanderbilt now has beaten Kentucky for a third straight year and tied up this series at 41-41-4 overall. The Commodores also won their seventh straight in November.
Franklin called it a Jedi mind trick last week when Austyn Carta-Samuels dressed but did not play in the Commodores' win at Florida.
The senior started against Kentucky despite not being on the depth chart. Carta-Samuels wore a brace protecting the left knee injured Oct. 19 in a win over Georgia, and he was sacked three times. Carta-Samuels was 19 of 24 for 184 yards before Robinette, who started at Texas A&M and in last week's 34-17 win at Florida, mopped up on the final few plays.
Whether it was the quarterback change or a hangover from the big win in the Swamp, the Commodores struggled to move the ball through the first three quarters. They took over in the fourth quarter holding the ball for nearly 11 minutes and outgaining Kentucky 141-16 putting away the win. Carey Spear kicked two field goals in the quarter.
The Commodores came in with 12 takeaways in the past three games, and they intercepted Jalen Whitlow three times in the first half. Kenny Ladler added the fourth with 5:24 left.
Kentucky opened the game executing the hurry-up offense coach Mark Stoops wants to perfection. The Wildcats drove 75 yards running through the Vanderbilt defense with ease on 10 of 12 plays before Kemp plunged in for a 2-yard TD and a 6-0 lead.
But Adam Butler blocked Joe Mansour's extra point, and Steven Clarke returned it 98 yards for a safety.
Hal set up Kimbrow's TD when a Jalen Whitlow pass went off Demarco Robinson's hands into his hands for the interception, and Hal returned it to the Vandy 26. Kimbrow scored three plays later on a 21-yard run, putting Vanderbilt up 9-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams struggled in an ugly third quarter that typified this game with Spear missing a 34-yard field goal wide left. Kentucky topped that with a fake field goal stopped for a 2-yard loss before a 13-yard punt late in the quarter.