Vanderbilt tops Toppers 31-30 in OT

Vanderbilt’s defense, which had given up over 500 yards of offense to Western Kentucky, stopped the Hilltopper’s 2-point conversion pass attempt in overtime to prevail 31-30 in a wild game in Bowling Green, Ky.

Trailing 24-17 with just over a minute remaining in the game, the Commodores drove 75 yards in seven plays to tie the score at 24 on a 2-yard scoring dive by Ralph Webb into the end zone.  The last drive of regulation featured a 22-yard catch by tight end Jared Pinkney, a 24-yard catch by Trent Sherfield, and a 12-yard catch by Kalja Lipscomb who likely saved the day for the Commodores by getting out of bounds to stop the clock.  

On the Commodores’ possession to open the overtime period, on second down quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed a 14-yard pass to Pinkney.  After Webb had just missed scoring another touchdown after being downed at the ½ yard-line, the Commodores lost yardage on the next two plays to find themselves facing a third-and-goal at the 5-yard-line.  Shurmur fired a pass to a Nathan Marcus who caught the pass while on his knees which put Vandy up 31-24 after the Tommy Openshaw extra point kick.  

Western Kentucky quickly scored on their OT possession when Mike White connected with Shaquille Johnson for an 8-yard scoring completion.  White finished the game with 222 yards passing and the one touchdown.  The Toppers then chose to go for two but a White pass was deflected by the Commodores and the game ended with Vandy going home with a 31-30 victory.  

Earlier in the fourth, with Vandy trailing 21-14, a 66-yard pass from Shurmur to Caleb Scott put Vanderbilt in position for an Openshaw 22-yard field goal that narrowed the score to 21-17 with 5:29 to play.  

In the first half, WKU took a 14-0 lead on an Anthony Wales 4-yard run in the first quarter and a Nacarius Fant beautiful 61-yard reception in the second quarter.  Vandy’s Ralph Webb scored on a 4-yard run with about two minutes remaining to send the two teams to the locker room with Vandy trailing 14-7.  

Webb, who gained 95 yards on 2 carries for three touchdowns, scored on a 2-yard run early in the third quarter.  Shurmur finished with his best passing performance of his career, gaining 279 yards while completing 18-of-29 attempts for a touchdown and interception.   

A happy Derek Mason spoke with the media after the game.

"It’s tough to win in someone else’s house," said Mason. "Especially a good football team. Our goal was to come out of this thing 2-2 and head into the month of October exactly that. I don’t care what the score is, I don’t care what the stat sheet looked like; all I know is that Vanderbilt won tonight.”

Vanderbilt improves to 2-2 (0-1 SEC) with the victory.  The Commodores will next host Florida on Saturday.  Western Kentucky falls to 2-2.  Vanderbilt improves to 4-1 in the all-time series with Western Kentucky.   The victory was the first Commodore overtime win since 1999.  

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