Vanderbilt holds off Miami, 24-13

Bennett breaks the record! (AP Photo/John Russell)

NASHVILLE-- It wasn't pretty at times but the end result was beautiful. Vanderbilt held off a scrappy Miami (Ohio) team here today despite multiple costly turnovers, injuries and penalties. The Commodores used three quarterbacks and rushed for 290 yards to notch their fifth victory of the season.

The Vanderbilt offense wasted no time getting into the end zone, marching 68 yards in 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. On that drive Earl Bennett became the SEC's all-time leader in career receptions. A 2-yard pass from Mackenzi Adams tied the record formerly held by Kentucky's Craig Yeast and then a 7-yard reception on the following play earned Bennett the record. Bennett finished the game with 8 receptions and now has 215 career catches, which is 7 more than Yeast.

Miami quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh then got the RedHawks on the board when he led his team on a 12 play, 61-yard drive that culminated with a Nathan Parseghian 42-yard field goal.

Trailing 7-3, Miami took advantage of a bobbled hand off from Adams to Jared Hawkins. Raudabaugh found Jamal Rogers for a 40-yard scoring toss to give Miami a 10-7 lead. It was the first touchdown scored on the Vanderbilt defense since the third quarter of the Georgia game, a span of 6 quarters.

Bryant Hahnfeldt's 26-yard field goal knotted the score at 10 at the half after a 10 play, 74-yard Commodore drive stalled at the Miami 9-yard-line.

Raudabaugh and Miami re-took the lead on a 39-yard Parseghian field goal with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter.

On the following drive Vanderbilt drove to the Miami 33-yard-line but Adams was hurt on the play while running for 11-yards. Former starter Chris Nickson then entered the game and later finished the scoring drive with his 2-yard run. Vanderbilt led 17-13 and would never again trail in the game.

After the Commodore defense held again, Richard Kovalcheck was inserted as quarterback after Nickson also suffered an injury. Head coach Bobby Johnson later stated that the injury effected Nickson throwing ability. Kovalcheck moved Vanderbilt to the Miami 30-yard-line but a fumble by D.J. Moore ended the drive.

After back-to-back three and outs by both team's offenses Nickson was re-inserted to lead the offense. Nickson then led the Commodores on a 5-play, 49-yard run only drive that ended with a Cassen Jackson-Garrison 15-yard scoring run. Vanderbilt led 24-13 with 6:27 remaining.

Vanderbilt's staunch defense then held the RedHawks, who rushed for only 26 yards on the day, while the Commodore offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage as Vanderbilt effectively ran down the clock to secure the win.

Despite being plagued with four costly penalties and four turnovers, Vanderbilt's quarterbacks combined for some decent numbers. Adams completed 9 of 14 passes for 108 yards and rushed for 47 yards. Nickson 42 yards on 11 attempts but did not attempt a pass. Kovalcheck completed 2 of 5 passes for 13 yards in his two drives. He also rushed 6 yards on one carry.

It was Bobby Johnson's 20th win as Vanderbilt's head coach.

The Commodores improve to 5-3 (2-3 SEC) with the win and travel to Florida next. The RedHawks fall to 4-5 (3-1 MAC) and next host Buffalo on Saturday.

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