NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt's Earl Bennett became the leading receiver in Southeastern Conference history on Saturday, making eight catches to help the Commodores to a 24-13 victory over Miami (Ohio).
COMMODORE POST-GAME COVERAGE
GAME BALL Junior wide receiver Earl Bennett broke the SEC record for career receptions with his second catch of the game and 209th of his career at the 13:34 mark of the first quarter. Bennett's record-breaking reception came on third down and went for seven yards and a first down to Vanderbilt's 47-yard line. The previous SEC record was 208 receptions by Kentucky's Craig Yeast and had been held since 1998. Bennett finished the day with a team-high 8 catches for 85 yards. "There have been a lot of guys who have played in this conference and just to be noticed among them is kind of overwhelming," Bennett said. "I never thought I'd be in this position right now."
LOCKDOWN DEFENSE The Commodores held Miami to 238 yards of total offense, including 86 yards in the second half. The 238 yards of offense marked the fourth time this season and second straight game that Vanderbilt has held its opponent to less than 300 yards of total offense. The Commodores also limited Miami to a season-low 26 yards on 27 carries. Leading the charge defensively was senior Jonathan Goff, who recorded his third double-digit tackle output of the season with 11 stops, including one sack and two tackles for loss.
NICKSON LEADS TD DRIVES Junior quarterback Chris Nickson replaced injured starter Mackenzi Adams midway through the third quarter, leading the Commodores to two touchdowns. Nickson entered the game with first and 10 on Miami's 33-yard line and drove the team the final 33 yards, capping the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Nickson led Vanderbilt on a 5-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a Cassen Jackson-Garrison 15-yard run with 6:46 to play.
FIVE ALIVE With its win over Miami, the Commodores picked up their fifth win by the end of October for the first time since 1999. The five wins in a season also marks the second time this decade and the first time since 2005 that the Commodores have had five victories.
JENSEN LEWIS RECOGNIZED Former Commodore and current Cleveland Indians reliever Jensen Lewis was recognized prior to Saturday's game as an honorary captain. Lewis made his debut in the big leagues this past July and finished the season with a 2.15 ERA in 26 games.
The junior has 215 catches, breaking Craig Yeast's mark of 208.
"I think it's pretty remarkable to pass that in two and a half years," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "He's been extremely consistent, works hard and has been a total team player. I'm happy for Earl. I'm glad to see his name at the top."
Bennett entered the game with 46 receptions this season, the second-highest in the Southeastern Conference. He is attempting to lead the league in catches for the third consecutive season.
"It means a lot," said Bennett, who finished with 85 yards receiving. "I never thought I would be in this position."
The RedHawks (4-5) led 13-10 midway through the third quarter, but the Commodores surrendered just 86 yards of total offense after that. Miami rushed for only 26 yards for the day. Vanderbilt also recorded five sacks.
It was the second straight strong second-half showing by Vandy's defense, ranked No. 19 nationally. Last week, the Commodores blanked South Carolina in the second half en route to a 17-6 win.
At 5-3, Vanderbilt is one win from bowl eligibility. The Commodores have not played in the postseason since 1982.
Vanderbilt took the lead for good at 17-13 with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter when reserve quarterback Chris Nickson capped a 70-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Starter Mackenzi Adams left the game because of an injury earlier in the quarter and did not return.
With the Vanderbilt defense in control, the Commodores put the game away with 6:46 left when tailback Cassen Jackson-Garrison scored on a 14-yard run, pushing the score to 24-13.
Three straight Vanderbilt turnovers in the second quarter helped allow Miami to grab a 10-7 halftime lead.
First, Adams was intercepted in the RedHawks' end zone by Jordan Gafford. Next Jared Hawkins fumbled at the Commodores' 46-yard line. Then, Vanderbilt's Thomas Welch fumbled a kickoff return at his own 38.
The score went up 10-7 with 6:16 left before halftime when quarterback Daniel Radabaugh connected with Jamal Rogers for a 40-yard touchdown pass on third-and-15.
Vanderbilt tied it on a 27-yard field goal by Bryant Hahnfeldt with 0:16 left in the half.