1982 Hall of Fame Bowl
Dec. 17, 2008
The 1982 Vanderbilt football squad won its last five games to earn a bid to the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham. Coach George MacIntyre led the Commodores to the school's third bowl game in its history with an 8-3 record. The opponent was the Falcons from the Air Force Academy.
This offensive display would see 41 Hall of Fame Bowl records either tied or broken. Legion Field was the site as more than 70,000 fans filled the stadium. Senior quarterback Whit Taylor led Vanderbilt's potent passing attack while Air Force relied on a controlled wishbone formation.
Air Force would pile up 19 fourth quarter points to outlast the Commodore's defense for a 36-28 win. Vanderbilt scored first in the opening quarter covering 75 yards in seven plays. Norman Jordan slipped out of the backfield for a 28-yard touchdown reception. Vanderbilt led, 7-0.
The Falcons tied the game at 7-7 on a short 37-yard drive following a Keith Edwards fumble. Air Force quarterback Marty Louthan ran a sneak from the one-yard line for the score. After Vanderbilt failed on its next drive, the Falcons came back with an 80-yard march to lead, 14-7. Mike Brown's 19-yard touchdown run capped the drive.
Vanderbilt struck back quickly with a pair of touchdowns. Taylor hit Phil Roach for a 15-yard TD to finish a 63-yard drive in just five plays. Before the half Vanderbilt covered 50 yards in five plays with Jordan taking another Taylor pass into the end zone. Vanderbilt led at the half, 21-14.
The Commodores were looking good at the end of the third quarter. Air Force managed a 21-yard Sean Pavlich field goal while the Commodores got another Taylor to Jordan touchdown pass from the four-yard line in the third period. Ricky Anderson kicked his third of four conversion attempts. Entering the final period, Vanderbilt was leading the Falcons, 28-17.
The Air Force rally began with a 92-yard drive early in the fourth quarter. Ted Sundquist capped the drive with a three-yard plunge into the end zone. The conversion failed. Vanderbilt still led, 28-23.
The Commodore's offense was ridden with fourth quarter mistakes. Taylor gave the Falcons a first down at the Commodore 21-yard line when Falcon end Carl Dieudonne intercepted a pass. Taylor would be intercepted three times on the day with two being picked off in the end zone.
John Kershner would score the go ahead touchdown with a three-yard run. The two-point attempt failed on the conversion, but the Falcons led 29-28. Later in the fourth quarter an Air Force gamble shook the Commodores. The Falcons had the ball on the Vanderbilt 46-yard line with a fourth-and-one. Vanderbilt clogged the line, but Louthan ran the option play and scampered for the 46-yard touchdown. The conversion kick was good and Air Force led 36-28. A final desperation comeback by the Commodores came up short.
Taylor was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He connected on 38-of-51 passes for 452 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan caught 20 of those passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Vanderbilt collected 495 total yards while Air Force totaled 451 yards. The Commodores only attempted 12 rushes for 35 yards. The Falcons gained 331 rushing yards.