This season is all the more disappointing because of the high hopes the team had of reaching a bowl game for the first time since 1982.
The key to this game was the play of Vanderbilt quarterback Mackenzi Adams. He was facing a Wake Forest defense that came into this contest giving up over 230 yards per game. Adams had, by far, the worst game of his career. He was 9 of 20 passing for just 64 yards and 1 interception. He also fumbled twice. Adams was only able to gain 12 yards on 5 carries rushing. Adams had a very nice season as the Commodores’ quarterback. It is unfortunate that his worst performance had to come in the last game of the season. He will remember this game, and it will make him a better player in the long run.
Richard Kovalchek had a nice game in relief of Adams in the second half. He finished 23-38 for 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Kovalcheck did not have the career he had hoped for as a Commodore, but it is good to see him go out on a high note.
The Vanderbilt rushing game, facing one of the tougher run defenses in the country, was not able to get anything going on Saturday. They totaled just 16 yards on 28 carries. The Commodores are never going to win a game with numbers like that. Cassen Jackson-Garrison ended his Vanderbilt career with 17 yards on 12 carries. Jeff Jennings had just 12 yards on 9 carries. The Vanderbilt offense just was not able to get anything going on the ground.
Special teams play came back to haunt the Commodores again on Saturday. Trailing just 14-3 at halftime, the Commodores allowed Wake Forest return man, Kevin Marion, to return the opening kickoff of the second half 81 yards. Two plays later De’Angelo Bryant caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Riley Skinner. Skinner ended the day 21-31 with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Wake Forest grabbed the momentum right at the beginning of the second half and never let it go.
Vanderbilt went into this game hoping to control the ball and keep the Wake Forest offense off the field, but they were not able to stop the Wake Forest rushing attack. Josh Adams rushed for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries. The Demon Deacons held the edge in time of possession 32:26 to 27:34.
It is unfortunate that Vanderbilt fans are left to face another winter thinking about what could have been if this game or that game was different. There are many positives that can be taken away from this season, but they are hard to see right now because of the high hopes the fans had of reaching a bowl this season.