Nov. 12, 2011
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Vanderbilt Commodores now must win away from home if they want their first bowl since 2008 and second since 1982.
Zac Stacy ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns, and Jordan Rodgers threw for 207 yards and two TDs as Vanderbilt routed Kentucky 38-8 Saturday in snapping a two-game skid.
The Commodores (5-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) improved to 5-2 at home under first-year coach James Franklin. They finish the season at Tennessee and at Wake Forest.
"I don't know what's happened in the past," Franklin said. "We have a mission and a plan, and today we took steps towards that plan. What we did at home is important, but you need to win tough games on the road. That's what this conference is about."
Kentucky (4-6, 1-5) had won two straight and eight of the last 10 in this series. The Wildcats, with freshman Maxwell Smith making his first road start, never threatened in this game and now must win both at No. 14 Georgia and in their home finale against Tennessee to extend their school-record streak to a sixth straight bowl game.
Wildcats coach Joker Phillips wasn't happy at a season-low in time of possession or a season high with 10 penalties for 105 yards or the final margin.
"To lose to anybody by this margin, this way, it has nothing to do with the margin, it has to do with the way we lost," Phillips said. "It's demoralizing that we didn't execute the way we needed to win."
The Commodores sacked Smith four times and forced a turnover. They did it with their biggest win over Kentucky since a 42-6 win in 1969 and matched their largest margin of victory in an SEC game since 1971 when they beat Mississippi State 49-19.
"I saw a Vanderbilt team that has perhaps changed forever for the better," Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter said.
They missed the shutout, which they don't mind.
"We held them to eight," Vanderbilt senior defensive end Tim Fugger said. "I'm OK with that. Our offense was scoring left and right, and any time your offense is scoring that many points, your defense can maybe let it slip a little bit. But, yeah, we played lights out with a lot of guys making plays. I'm proud of our guys."
Vanderbilt dominated almost from the opening kick in jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime that could have been much bigger if not for its own mistakes.
A personal foul on center Logan Stewart pushed the Commodores back after getting to the Kentucky 26. Randall Burden also picked off a Rodgers' pass at the goal line to end another Vanderbilt drive. After Archibald Barnes knocked the ball away from Mychal Bailey on a kickoff return and Steven Clarke recovered, the Commodores couldn't add more points when Rodgers scrambled to the Kentucky 3 staying inbound despite having no timeouts.
The clock ran out before Vandy could spike the ball, and the Wildcats sprinted to the locker room.
But the Commodores outgained Kentucky 278-41 in total offense in the first half and 410-211 overall.
"You could tell he was really flustered out there and confused on what we were doing," Fugger said of Smith. "That really took it out of their offense, and we were able to make plays and really stop them."
Udom Umoh tackled Ryan Tydlacka after the Kentucky punter had to reach and grab a low snap, and Stacy scored on the next play from 3 yards out for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Vanderbilt scored 21 points in the second quarter as Rodgers tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Chris Boyd to start the scoring, which the quarterback celebrated by putting on the championship belt mimicking his older brother, Aaron of the NFL's Packers.
Stacy capped a 59-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run, and Ryan Fowler made it 24-0 with a 32-yard field goal. Stacy added an 18-yard TD run with 6:45 left when he moved a pile of players with him into the end zone for nearly half that.
"I just saw a lot of white jerseys," Stacy said with the Wildcats in road uniforms.
Vanderbilt right tackle Kyle Fischer said Stacy could have gone down.
"But everybody in the offense, O-line, receivers, even Zac himself, just driving the pile, everybody getting behind each other," Fischer said. "That was just the resiliency of this team, too, showing that we never quit no matter what. If we are up or down, we never give up. We are always fighting."
Vanderbilt padded the lead in the third when Rodgers tossed the ball to Jordan Matthews on a screen, and the receiver broke a tackle by Burden and ran up the right sideline for a 49-yard TD with 4:05 left in the quarter. Burden was flagged on consecutive plays on the drive for pass interference.
"Nobody should ever be able to bait you into any type of penalty, and it's not the Kentucky way," Phillips said.
Kentucky avoided being shut out by Vandy for the first time since 1968 when Smith drove the Wildcats 79 yards and found Nick Melillo on a 22-yard TD with 1:41 left in the third. Smith then connected with Matt Roark for the 2-point conversion. The Wildcats outgained Vandy 158-49 in the quarter but managed only the one scoring drive.