Error prone Vanderbilt falls to WKU 14-12

NASHVILLE--Two costly interceptions thrown into the end zone cost Vanderbilt a chance at a win on Thursday night. Despite these and other big mistakes, Vanderbilt still nearly pulled out a victory. Trailing 14-6, the Commodores scored a touchdown in the final minute but a 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game, fell just short in the 14-12 loss to Western Kentucky.

Trailing 14-6 late in the fourth quarterback Johnny McCrary, who had earlier thrown two interceptions into the end zone, completed a 28-yard pass to Kris Kentera to put the 'Dores at the WKU 33. After a Ralph Webb 8-yard reception, McCrary fired a 20-yard pass to Trent Sherfield to the Hilltopper 5-yard line. Four plays later McCrary connected with Sherfield for a Commodore touchdown from 2-yards out. In the final minute of the game, Vandy had to go for two. However, a short pass to Kris Kentera was completed but Kentera was tackled at the 1-yard line to leave the score at 14-12.

Vandy was still not done. With 33 seconds remaining the Commodores attempted an on side kick. At first glance it appeared as if Vandy had recovered, however, officials ruled that the Dores had touched the ball before it had traveled 10 yards. The ball went over to the Hilltoppers along with the win.

Vanderbilt mistakes cost the Commodores dearly throughout the game. Early in the first quarter penalties stalled two drives that appeared to be promising. The second quarter featured a interception by McCrary, thrown into the end zone on first down with the Dores at the WKU 9. Later in the same quarter a messy snap and hold resulted Tommy Openshaw missing a chip shot 28-yard field - lost were points that could have made a winning difference for the 'Dores.

In the third quarter with Vandy facing a fourth-and-1 at the WKU 1, McCrary tossed yet another interception into the end zone. It was just an ugly night for the Vanderbilt offense.

Western Kentucky was stifled by the Derek Mason led Vandy defense throughout the first half and most of the third quarter. However, late in the third quarter, the Heisman candidate, Brandon Doughty, got things going. Doughty first found Tyler Higbee for a 65-yard catch and run to the Vandy 4. WKU and Doughty quickly ran down the field to run the next play which was a touchdown as Leon Allen bulled his way into the end zone to put Western Kentucky up 7-3. After that score, Vanderbilt would have more problems stopping the WKU offense.

Vanderbilt's offense, to its credit, was able to at least answer the WKU score. McCrary and company put together a 9 play, 52-yard drive that culminated with a Openshaw 26-yard field goal to narrow the Western Kentucky lead to 7-6. But WKU, brimming from confidence from its earlier score, quickly marched down the field on its ensuing drive and added to the Hilltopper's margin when Tyler Higbee caught his second key reception, this one a 9-yard scoring reception to put the Hilltoppers up 14-6.

At first glance at the statistics you would think Vanderbilt had won the game. Vandy had nearly double the number of first downs as WKU. The VU offense out-gained the vaunted WKU offense by a 393-247 margin. However, when you see the 3-0 disparity in turnovers things become clearer.

After the game an unhappy Mason talked about the breakdowns.

"There were opportunities.. You have to keep your composure," said Mason. "If nothing else, let's kick a field goal... [McCrary] has a high ceiling. We need to keep working with him and staying behind him... It's about continuing to stay the course. Everyone has a hard job, but [McCrary's] is the toughest. He doesn't need to go out there and be Superman."

Vanderbilt (0-1) will open its SEC slate next week when the Commodores host Georgia for a nationally televised game.


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