ATHENS, GA -- The Commodores kicked a dramatic field goal in the final seconds of the game to beat the No. 16-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, 24-22, today. It was the Commodores' first SEC win of the season, as well as first win on the road.
Down by one point with 10 seconds to play, sophomore place kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt nailed a 33-yard field goal to win the game.
Georgia went into the locker room at halftime with a 13-7 lead and lopsided statistics in their favor: 15 first downs to Vandy's 6, 271 total offense to Vandy's 76, and 19:30 time of possession compared to Vandy's 10:30. But a recovered fumble by head's-up freshman Commodore cornerback D.J. Moore on the first play of the second half, signaled a bellwether change in momentum. Four plays later, Cassen Jackson-Garrison tied the game on a two-yard touchdown. Hahnfeldt's extra-point gave Vanderbilt a 1-point lead.
Nickson later connected with sophomore wide receiver Sean Walker to extend the lead to 21-13. The 35-yard pass was a beauty, over the head of the defender and just within reach of Walker's outstretched hands.
Two interceptions almost proved fatal for the Commodores: One occurred in the Vanderbilt end zone, and the other was returned for a Bulldog touchdown to give the Dogs a 1-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The 'Dores survived another mistake when the Dogs failed to capitalize upon a 5-yard punt with just over 7 minutes left to play in the game. However Vanderbilt's defense held strong and the Dog's 38-yard field goal attempt went wide left. The 'Dores got the ball back on the Bulldog 20 with fewer than 5 minutes left to play to start the eventual game-winning drive. Nickson threw a dramatic bullet to Walker on dramatic 4th-down little more than 2 minutes, setting up Hahnfeldt's game-winning field goal.
Nickson completed 15 of 29 pass attempts for 190 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Sophomore receiver Earl Bennett caught 8 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, and moved into Vanderbilt's Top 10 in career receptions (120). Walker, Marlon White and Steven Bright all caught 2 passes, and Brad Allen made his first career catch.
It was a Commodore sweep over the Bulldogs this weekend. In addition to the football's come-from-behind upset victory, the Vanderbilt women's soccer team won last night in overtime 2-1.
With today's win, the 'Dores snap an 11-game losing streak to the Bulldogs that dates back to 1994. Today's attendance was 92,746.
The 'Dores (3-4, 1-3 SEC) return to Vanderbilt Stadium for its homecoming celebration next Saturday when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m CT. To order tickets, call 615-322-GOLD.