The Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the No. 22 ranked Missouri Tigers 21-14 on an overcast Saturday afternoon in Nashville to get their first SEC win of the season.
The Vanderbilt defense held the Tigers to 193 total yards, and Mo Hasan did just enough to propel the Commodores to the upset.
“Mo [Hasan] really provided that spark for us today,” Coach Derek Mason said. “And the end result was a Commodore win.”
After taking pre-game snaps with the first team, Hasan, the third-string quarterback, trotted onto the field for the opening drive. The first two possessions resulted in back-to-back punts for both Vanderbilt and Missouri. On the next drive, Hasan showed his ability to evade the Missouri blitz, which helped open up running lanes for Ke’Shawn Vaughn but the Commodores still could not get into Missouri territory.
The Tigers dialed up a quarterback dive with Kelly Bryant to convert on fourth and inches during the first quarter. Later in the same drive, linebackers Andre Mintz and Lashawn Paulino-Bell heated up the pocket, forcing Bryant to miss a wide-open receiver. On third down, Paulino-Bell recorded his first career sack; forcing the Tigers to attempt a 50-yard field goal, which sailed wide left.
The Commodores took advantage of the missed field goal with a 34-yard strike to wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb. Evading the Missouri blitz, Hasan scrambled for 21 yards on third and long to the goal line. Vaughn punched in the touchdown on a one-yard dive up the middle, giving Vanderbilt a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers responded with a 55-yard reception by wide receiver Cam Scott, which was followed by a touchdown pass to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. After tying up the game at 7-7, Okwuegbunam was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With two minutes left in the first half, Hasan connected with Vaughn for a 61-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 14-7. The Commodores showed the ability to score in a hurry, as the Vaughn screen pass resulted in a one-play, 14-second touchdown drive to close out the half.
The Commodore defense stood tall throughout the first half and brought some much-needed physicality and swagger to the Vanderbilt team. Derek Mason’s front seven came to play, as Bryant was constantly under duress from the Vanderbilt pass rush. Missouri was the more penalized team in the first half, recording six flags for 55 yards. The Tiger’s defense stifled the Vanderbilt running game, as they held Vaughn to 47 yards on 15 carries in the first half.
During their first drive of the second half, Missouri put a greater emphasis on the run game. The Tigers rushed for 76 yards all the way to the Vanderbilt nine-yard line. After a running into the kicker penalty negated a missed field goal for Missouri, Bryant lofted a pass to the endzone and was intercepted by cornerback Allan George.
Late in the third quarter, while scrambling for a first down, Hasan was hit by safety Tyree Gillespie after beginning to slide. The brutal helmet-to-helmet contact resulted in a targeting call and Gillespie’s ejection from the game. Hasan was shaken up from the dirty hit, which brought Riley Neal into the ballgame.
On his first throw of the game, Neal threw an interception to Missouri linebacker Cameron Wilkins which set up first and goal for the Tigers. On the next play, Missouri running back Larry Rountree III ran in a six-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
The Vanderbilt offense stalled with Neal under center for the first two drives. However, the Commodore defense was able to force the Tigers to punt on the ensuing possessions.
With 12 minutes left in the game, Vanderbilt marched down the field on a 65-yard drive. Tight end Jared Pinkney made an incredible catch on third down to keep the chains moving. A few plays later, Neal connected with wide receiver Cam Johnson for a 21-yard touchdown to bring the score to 21-14.
While attempting to tie up the game, the Missouri offense was helped by two costly Vanderbilt penalties. However, a third-down sack by Andre Mintz led to a 48-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide left.
Vaughn broke tackle after tackle on the ensuing drive and the Commodores were able to burn the clock all the way down and come away with the victory. In the end, Vanderbilt came away with a huge upset victory over a ranked SEC East opponent.
Following the victory, Coach Mason said, “It was a party over on West End.”
The energy was definitely palpable tonight, as Vaughn capped off his 96-yard rushing night with a backflip.
Mason also delivered an incredibly passionate postgame interview.
“A lot of people want this job, so they think, but I’m the man that’s built for this job,” he said. “Every day we grind. We grind. Don’t question us. Don’t question who we are, what we do, or how we play. We’re Vanderbilt men. Commodores Anchoring Down!”
After a rough start to the season, the Vanderbilt Commodores appear ready to battle through the latter half of their schedule.