"It's pride and joy no doubt about it, but we're not satisfied. We have two more regular season games to play and we're going to approach them like every other game we've had. I'm not going to lie to you; there is elation in the locker room right now and within our coaching staff. We've worked hard, and I'm proud of them for doing that and we went into a slide a little bit but we came out of it and played well tonight. That's what we asked them to do," Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said of the feeling in the locker room after his team accomplished what so many Vandy teams could not.
The win is even a little sweeter because not only does it end the two streaks, but it comes against Kentucky who the Dores have had a lot of trouble beating in recent years. This was the third time in four years a win against the Wildcats would have given the Commodores their sixth win. That was a big hurdle for this team to overcome.
The Vanderbilt offense got off to a fast start in this game. That was important to give them confidence to get that sixth win that had eluded them for so long. "Absolutely, any time you score early it is good. It built our team's moral and gave our offense confidence and got us ready to play. It was a tremendous advantage for us tonight to go up 14, and if we don't jump out to that lead then you never know what might happen. It was a tremendous advantage for us," Chris Nickson said after the game of the importance of getting off to a fast start.
Vandy’s first possession of the game covered 84 yards in 10 plays and took 5:29 off the clock. The drive ended when Nickson found D.J. Moore in the end zone for a 25 yard touchdown. That reception was not only Moore’s first career touchdown catch, it was the first reception of his career.
The Black and Gold got on the board again on their second offensive possession. After the defense forced a three and out, the offense put together another 10 play touchdown drive. This one was capped by an 18 yard Moore touchdown reception.
The Dores would get points on three of their four first quarter possessions to take a 24-7 lead into the halftime break. Vandy dominated the time of possession battle in the first half by holding the ball for 23:50.
The Wildcats caught a break to start the second half when Moore dropped a punt after the Cats’ first drive had stalled. Kentucky would take advantage of that break when Tony Dixon carried the ball into the end zone from 3 yards out to make the score 24-14.
Kentucky would add a field goal before the third quarter ended to cut the Commodores’ lead to 24-17, but Vanderbilt would get a 4 yard Jared Hawkins touchdown run in the first minute of the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 14 points.
The Cats had the ball back down by just a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but their comeback hopes were shot down when Moore picked off a Randall Cobb pass. That interception was Moore’s second of the game.
Nickson played very well in this game going 15 of 27 for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and carrying the ball 20 times for 145 yards. He proved that he is over the shoulder injury that was bothering him earlier in the year and should be the starter for the final two regular season games and the bowl game. Hawkins also had a nice game averaging 5.6 yards per carry on 15 carries, but Moore was the star of the game with his 2 touchdown receptions and 2 interceptions.
Vandy now has confidence heading into their last 2 games. Both of those games are very winnable, and an eight win season would be something very special for this group to accomplish.