Vanderbilt’s Darrius Sims took the opening kickoff back 95 yards, setting Vanderbilt up for an easy touchdown two plays later that gave Vanderbilt an early 7-0 lead.
And the lead held up for a while in spite of some offensive ineptitude by the Commodores. In spite of getting outgained 204-64 in the first half, the Commodores took a 7-6 lead into the locker room. The Bulldogs had to settle for field goals on two first-half drives, and with two seconds left in the half, Kirby Smart elected to have Jacob Eason throw a Hail Mary that was batted down, rather than attempt a 54-yard field goal.
After Tommy Openshaw kicked a 38-yard field goal early in the second half to make it 10-6, Georgia finally found paydirt as Jacob Eason found Isaac Nauta for a 17-yard touchdown pass. A Rodrigo Blankenship field goal made it 16-10, but Vanderbilt answered with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by a Khari Blasingame touchdown run to give Vanderbilt a 17-16 lead with 9:43 left in the game.
That held up as Zach Cunningham stopped Georgia on 4th-and-1 with under a minute left. What did we learn?
- Georgia’s not winning the SEC East. Well, that much is obvious if it wasn’t before this week. But after the Bulldogs’ third SEC loss, it’s a fait accompli that they won’t be going to the SEC Championship in Atlanta.
- Derek Mason might have saved his job. Mason had a career record of 9-21, 2-17 in the SEC, including 0-9 in road games in conference play, before today. This validated his approach as the Commodores hung on for a huge win.
- Vanderbilt has some fight in them. The Commodores could have packed it in after a 2-4 start, 0-3 in the SEC. Instead, they came to play in Athens and came away with a big win. Now, Vanderbilt has Tennessee State next week and a bowl trip is back on the table.