It was predicted by many to be an ugly game and it lived up to its billing.
In a meeting between two of college football’s worst teams, Vanderbilt rallied to a 30-28 victory over Connecticut on Saturday night.
“I’ll have a lousy win any day knowing we have a long way to go,” said Vanderbilt freshman coach Clark Lea.
“What we needed was for (quarterback Kenny Seals) to step up and play with confidence,” Lea said. “As he walks out on this ride, he has a look in his eyes. He was determined to do it. He intervened in a great moment with his attacking teammates. “
Vanderbilt came in for 47 yards in seven games with 1:07 to go, including converting at the 4th and 4th to set up a 31-yard field goal by Joseph Bulovas as time went on.
It was the second time Vanderbilt overcame a lead in Connecticut. Connecticut opened with field goals from 38 and 44 yards by Joe McFadden on the first two drives for a 6-0 lead. A pair of touchdowns in the 5:21 final gave Connecticut a 28-27 lead.
Connecticut quarterback Steve Krajewski threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another in the final 5:21 to give the Huskies a 28-27 lead. He pitched for 264 yards hitting 18 of 34 attempts with two interceptions. He had no trouble finding a way to describe his feelings.
“It stinks,” Krajewski said. “We have to wake up in the morning and go to work. “
Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard caught touchdown passes with one each in the second and fourth quarters. It was his first two career touchdown receptions as he had seven catches for 113 yards.
The Seals had an impressive performance, throwing for 333 yards. Chris Pierce finished with 103 yards as the Seals completed 27 of 40 attempts with an interception.
“I was proud of the way Kenny threw it and the receivers caught it,” Lea said. “There were good game plans. There is a lot to build there.
“Following the loss in Georgia, we wanted to be more aggressive as coaches and to have our players play more aggressively and confidently.
Running back Rocko Griffin Jr.’s first career touchdown came on a one-yard run with four minutes left in the second quarter to give Vanderbilt a 17-16 halftime advantage.
Neither team scored in the third quarter.
The Commodores are 2-3 and ended a seven-game losing streak at home. Connecticut falls to 0-6, the Huskies’ 10th consecutive loss dating back to 2019. The team did not play in 2020.
Take it away
UConn: Penalties have been a major issue for the Huskies with 12 for 93 yards, including a personal foul in the first half that resulted in a player being sent off.
Vanderbilt: In the second quarter, safety Max Worship intercepted a pass only to return the ball to Connecticut as he attempted to back it. It was Worship’s first career interception and gave the Commodores interceptions in back-to-back games for the first time since 2019 against Purdue and LSU.
DEFENSE NEEDS ADJUSTMENT
Lea said he saw a lot of long faces on his defensive players who allowed 331 passing yards and 192 rushing yards.
“That defense has strengthened in great moments a number of times this season,” said Lea. “Our rush for passes continues to be a problem. “
Connecticut is on the road to Massachusetts on Saturday.
Vanderbilt begins a seven-game SEC streak with a trip to Florida.