Vanderbilt edges Wake Forest 23-21 for 8th win
Carey Spear kicked a 38-yard field goal with 39 seconds left,
and Vanderbilt rallied to beat Wake Forest 23-21 Saturday as the
Commodores finished with their second straight 8-4 season.
The Commodores now have posted consecutive eight-win seasons for
the first time since 1927 and 1928 and can only hope their sluggish
performance didn’t hurt their chances for a bowl game outside of
Tennessee. They turned it over twice, and Spear kicked two of his
three field goals in the fourth quarter to give them their ninth
straight win in November.
Wake Forest (4-8) lost its fifth straight.
Vanderbilt struggled coming off a big win over in-state rival
Tennessee. Jordan Matthews set another Southeastern Conference mark
as the league’s first receiver to top 100 catches.
His biggest came on the game-winning drive on fourth-and-11 as
he hauled in a 25-yarder between two defenders.
Wake Forest had one last chance for the win, but defensive end
Walker May sacked Tanner Price setting up the final play. Price
threw deep to Tyree Harris, a pass broken up by Vanderbilt safety
Kenny Ladler to seal the win.
Vanderbilt held the ball for more than 38 minutes and outgained
Wake Forest 403-266 in total offense. The Commodores also led 17-14
Nikita Whitlock tipped a pass by Austyn Carta-Samuels, and
Justin Jackson grabbed the ball and returned it 63 yards for a
touchdown giving Wake Forest its first lead of the game at 21-17
with 6:10 left in the third quarter.
Vanderbilt finally put together its best drive in the fourth
quarter, holding the ball more than 7 minutes. But the Commodores
had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Spear that pulled them
within 21-20 with 6:58 to go. Chase Garnham intercepted a Tanner
Price pass three plays later and returned it to the Wake Forest 33
with 6:00 left.
Mike Olson stripped Vanderbilt senior Wesley Tate of the ball,
and safety Anthony Wooding Jr. recovered for Wake Forest.
Vanderbilt lost only two fumbles through the first 10 games and now
has lost four the two.
Vanderbilt needed Matthews’ leaping grab to keep the
game-winning drive alive, even as he was being held by a defender.
The Commodores sent out their preseason All-SEC kicker for the win
four plays later.
Matthews finished with 11 catches for 125 yards, giving him 107
receptions this season. He got the record on his second catch of
the game, a 41-yarder, giving him 98 receptions and a single-season
record in the league. He topped the 97 receptions by Keith Edwards
had for Vanderbilt in 1983.
The Commodores switched back and forth between Carta-Samuels and
Robinette. Carta-Samuels capped the opening drive with a 7-yard TD
pass to Fitz Lassing, and Robinette also ran for an 8-yard TD
The Demon Deacons tried to take advantage of Vanderbilt being
without cornerback Andre Hal with Ladler suspended for the first
half after being ejected from last week’s win at Tennessee for
They took lots of shots downfield but had trouble connecting.
Price ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter to tie the
school record with his 65th career TD, a mark also held by Riley
Skinner. Dominique Gibson also had a 9-yard TD run for Wake