Robert F. Vaughn penned the Vanderbilt University Alma Mater in 1907. It is played following every Vanderbilt sporting contest. The phrase all Vanderbilt supporters hold dear is actually the sixth line all say together, “conquer and prevail.” That is exactly what Vanderbilt did in Knoxville on Saturday night.
For the first time since 1926, Vanderbilt has defeated Tennessee back-to-back in football, winning 14-10 in front of 97,223 at Neyland Stadium. The victory moved Vanderbilt to 7-4 overall, 4-4 in the SEC and dropped Tennessee to 4-7, 1-6 in the conference. It will mark the fourth consecutive losing season for the Volunteers, something that had not occurred since 1903-1906. Vanderbilt has won nine SEC games over the past two seasons—their most since 1934-1935.
Vanderbilt seemed to be making things too complicated through most of the game on offense, employing a two-quarterback system, switching between Austyn Carta-Samuels and Patton Robinette sometimes after every play. Tennessee was far from comfortable either, also not emphasizing what they should have. Joshua Dobbs, making his third start, is clearly not ready for what he is being asked to do.
What all this equaled to was a game with seven turnovers, 10 punts, and barely more than 500 yards combined offense. It was a battle in the truest sense of the word, as a rivalry game should be, and it most certainly is a rivalry again.
After Kenny Ladler intercepted a Dobbs pass in the first quarter, VU went 61 yards on 11 plays capped by a four-yard score from Jerron Seymour to put Vandy up 7-0. On Vandy’s next possession, Carta-Samuels threw a terrible deep ball, intercepted by UT’s Brian Randolph. But Tennessee failed to take advantage as Michael Palardy missed a 33-yard FG badly. A Brian Kimbrow fumble set UT up on their next drive, and Rajon Neal capped it with a five-yard TD run on the first play of the second to tie it at 7-7. Vanderbilt had another chance to score later in the first half following another interception, but Jordan Matthews fumbled inside the Tennessee 5.
The Volunteers took the second half kickoff and went 55 yards over six minutes to take the lead as Palardy banked in a 32-yard FG to put the Vols up 10-7. Momentum was entirely on the Vols side until a fateful decision by Coach Butch Jones. After a penalty had nullified a Dobbs touchdown, on 4th-and-19, Jones called for a fake FG. Palardy’s poor pass was easily intercepted by Paris Head—one of two Head had on the night replacing an injured Andre Hal.
They are already calling it ‘The Drive.’ Vanderbilt got the ball with 4:16 remaining and the ball at their eight. Vandy knew they had to open the field a bit after so many short passes, and Jonathan Krause stepped up for a pair of downfield catches for 35 yards. With 48 seconds left, it was 4th-and-one at the UT 34. A field goal was not an option as Carey Spear had been short on a 42-yarder earlier in the quarter. Carta-Samuels sneaked forward for what clearly appeared to be a first down. Mysteriously the head linesman spotted it short. The play was reviewed and overturned—a play that will be debated for years.
Emboldened, Carta-Samuels found Matthews down the far sideline for 25 yards to the UT eight. Two plays later, Patton Robinette faked a jump pass, then ran around right end untouched for the touchdown heard all over the state, and a crowning achievement for Vanderbilt.