The 45 minute bus ride back from Murfreesboro to Nashville last Saturday night was a sweet one for the Commodores, as they came away with a huge win to ruin Middle Tennessee State’s homecoming. The Commodores (2-3) scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes, overcoming a 10 point deficit, to secure an improbable comeback. Final score, 17-13.
“‘Bout time,” said Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, regarding the win. This was Vandy¹s first road win since Mason’s been the head honcho. They also snapped a three game losing streak against the Blue Raiders (2-3) in their first game against each other since 2005.
Ralph Webb sealed the lid when he ran for a 39-yard touchdown with a little over a minute left in the contest. Webb ran for 155 yards on 25 carries. This was his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.
“Once I broke through the second wave of the defense, all I saw was the end zone,” Webb said.
Quarterback Johnny McCrary started the rally with his 29-yard scamper for a touchdown with a little over six minutes left. McCrary ended the game 18 of 31 for 177 yards passing and 33 yards rushing on six carries. However, that touchdown dash was the spark that lit the fire.
“I was just trying to make a play,” said McCrary.
Both teams defenses stood tall throughout, until the end. MTSU held McCrary in check, at least through the air, turning him over twice with interceptions. The Commodore defense held Middle Tennessee to just 34 yards on 23 carries. The flip side of that was that the Commodores finished with 286 yards rushing. That was the area that doomed the Blue Raiders.
“We did a nice job for the most part defensively until the last drive,” said Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill.
Brent Stockstill, a freshman and son of Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill, finished 32 of 51 passing for 286 yards. His 32 completions were second most in a game in school history. It was wet and sloppy all night, but Middle Tennessee State had an opportunity to extend its 6-3 lead just before halftime, but Stockstill fumbled at the Vanderbilt two yard line on fourth and goal. Stockstill did bounce back however, when he threaded the needle to Ed’Marques Batties for an 18 yard touchdown, capping off a 63 yard, 12 play drive. The catch was impressive, because Vanderbilt safety Arnold Tarpley popped Batties’ helmet off while trying to knock the ball loose and Batties still held on. Batties finished the game with 10 catches for 82 yards.
At this point, it seemed as if the game was pretty much in the bag, as the Blue Raiders enjoyed a 13-3 lead with 12 minutes to go and no indication of the Commodores’ offense reviving. They looked dead in the water, the whole game actually. Besides the rushing attack, they did absolutely nothing. Well, that’s why you play until there are triple zeros on the clock.