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TUSCALOOSA, ALA -- The Commodores dropped their second consecutive game of the season today, losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide 13-10.
The 'Dores took the Tide all they way down to the last play of the game and the last two ticks of the clock, but Chris Nickson's intercepted Hail-Mary pass ended Vanderbilt's bid to beat Alabama for the first time since 1984.
Both of Vanderbilt's scores came in the first half. The first came despite a high snap when Bryant Hahnfeldt's 42-yard field goal attempt was dead-on with plenty of leg to tie the game at 3-3. Nickson later connected with sophomore wide receiver Earl Bennett for a six-yard touchdown to give the 'Dores a 10-3 lead with 14 seconds left in the half. But the Commodore lead was short-lived. Bama scored on the opening drive of the second half. A 42-yard Bama field goal midway through the fourth quarter put the game away for good.
Despite throwing three interceptions, Nickson was solid at quarterback. The red-shirt sophomore completed 15 of 23 pass attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown. Nickson was also the team's second leading rusher, logging 40 yards on 11 carries.
Junior running back Cassen Jackson-Garrison appeared to be far less timid today than he was in Michigan last week, his first action following an appendectomy late in the summer. Today, Jackson-Garrison ran for 42 yards on nine carries.
The Commodore's red-zone defense had a stellar day in Tuscaloosa, limiting the Tide to a paltry three first-half points. The defense also recovered two fumbles over the course of the game, and a forced Alabama to cross their fingers on a 47-yard field-goal attempt with 7:34 left to play, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
For the second time in his career, wide receiver Earl Bennett threw complete pass, 15-yard bull's eye to Marlon White. Last week, Bennett threw a touchdown pass to White for the 'Dores only score against the No. 15-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
Redshirt junior linebacker Jonathan Goff picked up where he left off in Michigan, where he recorded a career-high 14 tackles. Today he recorded 13 tackles, forced two fumbles, and broke up one pass. Kevin Joyce, Ben Koger, Marcus Buggs , and D.J. Moore each recorded six tackles. Broderick Stewart recorded the 'Dores' lone sack, dropping quarterback John Parker Wilson for a 13-yard loss. Defensive lineman Theo Horrocks had a strong day, recording an interception as well as five tackles. Moore and Curtis Gatewood both recovered fumbles for the 'Dores.
The offensive line did a much better job of protecting Nickson today, not allowing a single sack. Last week they surrendered six sacks in Ann Arbor.
The Black-and-Gold fans made themselves heard chanting "Who Ya Wit? V-U!", which could be heard over the Crimson Tide fans silenced by key Commodore plays in the first half. The attendance was 92,138.
Next for the 'Dores
The 0-2 Commodores play at home for the first time this season next week when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 11:30 CST.