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

at halftime.

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