Special Teams Give Vandy Music City Bowl Win

The media will have to come up with some new material when doing Commodore games next year. Gone is the streak of consecutive losing seasons. Gone is the streak of years without a bowl appearance. Gone is the streak of years without a bowl win. This team, and this group of seniors, just put the Vanderbilt football program back on the map.

"I guess everyone can figure out that we are pretty happy. We are thrilled to win the Music City Bowl right here in Nashville, our home town. I was very proud of our football team for hanging in there playing against a very fine football team in Boston College. We kept our composure and made some big plays when we had to. It maybe not have been the prettiest victory in the whole world but it is for us now. Again, it was great to be here in Nashville. Our fans were fantastic, we could hear them the whole game. I am sure that helped us and gave us a little bit of an advantage. We are glad they were there," Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said after the game.

The Commodores won this game on special teams. Senior kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt made two first quarter field goals to give the Black and Gold a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Hahnfeldt has had an up and down career with the Commodores, so it was really good to see him go out on such a high note.

Hahnfeldt's second field goal was set up by a beautiful 51 yard pass from Larry Smith to Sean Walker. Smith proved in the game yesterday that he has all of the tools to be a very good quarterback for this team in the coming years. He has a very strong arm, is accurate, and makes good decisions. It should be an interesting spring battle between Smith and Mackenzi Adams for the starting spot.

The Dores biggest break of the game came in the third quarter. Boston College had taken a 7-6 led right before the half. Vandy got the ball to start the second half, and was forced to punt. Brett Upson, the Music City Bowl MVP, got off a rugby style punt that hit a Boston College player who was running down field to block. The ball was recovered by the Commodores in the end zone for a touchdown. Hahnfeldt made the extra point to give the Dores a 13-7 lead.

Upson punted the ball nine times in this MVP performance and averaged 42.6 yards per punt with three punts downed inside the 20. "We did mostly rugby punts all day and I felt like I hit those pretty good. You have to drop them going into the wind. The wind was playing a big role - and I'm sure Bryant can agree - out there today in the kicking game. I was able to get the nose down on the ball and drive into the wind and get some roll out of the ball," Upson said after the game.

The score would stay 13-7 until Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis found receiver Colin Larmond Jr. for a 55 yard touchdown strike with just over six minutes left to play in the game. A lot of the Vandy fans in attendance were thinking this would be just another heartbreaking loss.

Luckily the players were not thinking that same way. They proved so many times this season that they are different than the teams that have played on West End in the past. The offense was aided by a facemask penalty and a roughing the passer penalty on the ensuing drive that set up Hahnfeldt's 45 yard game winning field goal.

The Eagles would get the ball back two more times, but the Black and Gold defense would hold both times with Myron Lewis making a spectacular interception to seal the win.

It is really impossible to put into words how important this win is for the Vanderbilt football program. Not only does it end all of the negative streaks that Commodore fans have heard so much about, but it provides good exposure on a national stage that will help the coaches on the recruiting trails. The future looks very bright for Vandy football.

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