The Best of 2012: Defensive Play

Dec. 12, 2012

Vanderbilt's regular season will go down as one of the most memorable in the school's history. The team rewrote numerous records and captured the attention of Vanderbilt fans everywhere.

The team finished the regular season with an 8-4 record and is bound for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.

To relive some of the excitement from the 2012 regular season, VUCommodores will spend this week reflecting back on the season that was with a Best of 2012.

Each day a new category will be available to vote on by fans. The polls will be open throughout the week and the final votes will be tabulated and announced on Monday, Dec. 17.

Wednesday's category is "Best Defensive Play." Again, there were a multitude of plays to pick from, and we did our best to limit the choices to just eight.

Monday: Best Uniform Combination
Tuesday: Best Offensive Play
Wednesday: Best Defensive Play
Thursday: Best "We-Fense" Play
Friday: Best of the Rest

Best Defensive Play

Kenny Ladler Intercepts Shaw and South Carolina
Kenny Ladler read Connor Shaw's eyes and jumped in front of the South Carolina wide receiver to intercept a pass in Vanderbilt's first game of the season. Ladler intercepted the pass at South Carolina's 38-yard line and returned it to the 21. The interception provided Vanderbilt with excellent field position and a wave of momentum against No. 9 South Carolina. It was Ladler's only interception of the season and the longest return of his career. Watch

Trey Wilson's 100-Yard Interception Return Against Presbyterian
There has never been a player at Vanderbilt that has done more with their interception returns than Trey Wilson. Against Presbyterian, Wilson became Vanderbilt's all-time leader in interception returns for touchdowns and he did so with the most impressive return of his career. With Presbyterian on the verge of scoring its only points of the game, Wilson took matters into his own hands by intercepting a pass in the end zone and returning it 100 yards for a touchdown. The interception return for a touchdown was the third of his career and tied for the longest in school history. Wilson would add his fourth pick-six later in the year against UMass to extend his record. Only Tennessee's Jackie Walker has returned more interceptions for touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference, scoring five from 1969-71. Watch

Walker May Hits Missouri QB Three Straight Plays to Force Turnover on Downs
Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser might have nightmares about Walker May. In Vanderbilt's game at Missouri, May was seemingly in the backfield harassing Berkstresser on every play. On Missouri's final drive, with the Tigers trailing by four and deep inside Vanderbilt's territory, May hit Berkstresser on three straight snaps to force hurried and errant throws that eventually resulted in a turnover on downs at Vanderbilt's 25-yard line. Vanderbilt would take over with 2:43 to play and Missouri never got the ball again. Watch

Chase Garnham Rocks Auburn QB with 10-Yard Loss on a Sack
With Vanderbilt leading Auburn, 17-10, late in the third quarter, the Tigers appeared to be positioning themselves for another score. Auburn had driven to Vanderbilt's 40-yard line, but two false start penalties pushed the Tigers back to midfield, where they faced a third-and-20. On the next snap, Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley dropped back to pass and was drilled by Garnham for a 10-yard loss on a sack. It was Garnham's second of three sacks in the game and left Auburn with no choice but to punt. Watch

Archibald Barnes Hurries Ole Miss QB on Final Play
Following Vanderbilt's dramatic go-ahead touchdown at Ole Miss, the Commodores had one last defensive stand to make in order to complete the comeback in Oxford. Trailing by one, 27-26, the Rebels had driven to Vanderbilt's 48-yard line, but faced a fourth-and-7 following a timeout with 18 seconds to play. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace took the snap out of the shotgun and was immediately under pressure by Barnes, who came untouched around the left side of the Ole Miss line and delivered a shot on Wallace just as he released the ball. The ball sailed high and incomplete of the intended receiver, and the Commodores would take a knee and run out the clock. Watch

Rob Lohr Tips Tennessee's Pass and Johnell Thomas Picks it Off
With Vanderbilt trailing Tennessee, 7-3, in the second quarter, the Volunteers went back to work on offense. After a 14-yard run up to its own 44-yard line, Tennessee tried to go to the air on the very next play, but defensive tackle Rob Lohr read the eyes of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, got his hands up and tipped the ball high into the air where it was grabbed by defensive end Johnell Thomas. It was Thomas' first-career interception and the Commodores added a field goal on the next drive. Watch

Andre Hal Jumps Route and Secures his First of Two Interceptions Against Tennessee
Vanderbilt would end a second straight Tennessee drive with an interception when Andre Hal picked off Justin Worley's pass attempt on third-and-14 from the Tennessee 46-yard line in the second quarter. Hal intercepted the pass at the Vanderbilt 47-yard line and returned it 36 yards to the 17. The interception led to Vanderbilt's first touchdown of the game, and gave the Commodores their first lead, 13-7. Hal would add another interception - this time of Tyler Bray - in the third quarter. Watch

Colt Nichter Forces Fumble After Wake Forest Unsportsmanlike Penalty
Players were pointing fingers and jawing back and forth after a Wake Forest player received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a block delivered against Vanderbilt's Eric Samuels. Vanderbilt led 21-7 at the time and the Commodores were visibly upset about the play. But no matter what was said between the two teams, Vanderbilt let its play on the field do the rest of the talking. On the very next snap, Vanderbilt defensive tackle Colt Nichter tracked down Wake Forest wide receiver Sherman Ragland, who caught the ball four yards past the line of scrimmage, and forced a fumble that was recovered by Andre Hal. Watch



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