Vandy Falls to Wake Forest 23-10

Jamie Graham (VM/Stan Jones)

The Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6, 4-4) will have to settle for a six win season after falling to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 23-10 in Winston-Salem Saturday night.

The Dores got the first break of the game when they recovered a punt that was recovered by Wake Forest return man D.J. Boldin at the Wake 20 yard line. Vandy would get a 4 yard run from Jamie Graham on first down, but would have to settle for a 33 yard field goal from Bryant Hahnfeldt after two incomplete passes thrown by Chris Nickson.

The Demon Deacons would get a 42 yard field goal on their next possession to tie the game at 3. That drive covered 55 yards and 11 plays with the biggest play coming on a Riley Skinner pass to Josh Adams for 30 yards on third and six. The Vanderbilt defense struggled to get off the field on third down all night allowing Wake Forest to convert 43% of their chances.

Wake Forest would get the first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter when Brandon Pendergrass carried the ball in from six yards out. Pendergrass had a solid night on the ground carrying the ball 10 times for 45 yards and one touchdown, and the Wake offense gained 158 yards on 42 carries for the night.

Vanderbilt dodged a bullet right before halftime when the Demon Deacons blocked a Brett Upson punt and recovered it at the Vandy 36 yard line with just 1:06 to go in the first half. The Dores' defense forced three incomplete passes from Skinner before Sam Swank missed a 52 yard field goal to keep the score 10-3 at the half.

Vandy would open the second half with a big play when they forced Adams to fumble on Wake's first offensive play of the half. That fumble gave the Commodores great field position at the Wake 40, but on Vanderbilt's first play Jeff Jennings would give the ball right back to the Demon Deacons with a fumble. Bobby Johnson's defense would come up big following the fumble by forcing Wake to punt.

Wake would get on the board again with just over seven minutes left to go when Kevin Harris scored a touchdown from eight yards out. That score was set up by a 25 yard pass from Skinner to Boldin who had a big night receiving with 8 catches for 73 yards.

The Commodores, with Larry Smith at quarterback, put together and impressive touchdown drive on their ensuing possession. The drive covered 69 yards on 14 plays with the touchdown coming on a 5 yard pass to tight end Brandon Barden from Smith on fourth and goal from the four. Coach Johnson had sent the field goal team out before the end of the third quarter, but during the timeout for the quarter change elected to send his offense back on the field.

Vandy gave the Demon Deacons an easy scoring chance when Alphonso Smith picked off a Smith pass and returned it to the eight yard line. Two plays later Belton would take the ball in from the four yard line to give the Demon Deacons a 23-10 lead. Swank would miss the extra point, but it would not matter because Vandy was unable to get close to the end zone.

Now the Commodores will have to wait and see where they fall in the bowl picture. They are assured a bowl spot because the Southeastern Conference does not have enough teams eligible to fill all of their bowl slots, but they could have really improved their position with a win in this game.

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