Baylor outscores Vanderbilt in shootout | News Coverage from USA

Baylor outscores Vanderbilt in shootout

HOUSTON — Vanderbilt failed to earn its first bowl victory and first winning season under Derek Mason, losing 45-38 to Baylor in the Texas Bowl Thursday night.

The Commodores finished 6-7 overall and 3-5 in SEC play. Baylor finished with a 7-6 record after going 1-11 last season.

Vanderbilt’s Ryley Guay made a 33-yard field goal with 3:30 remaining to tie it 38-38. But four plays later, Baylor’s Charlie Brewer hit Marques Jones for a 52-yard touchdown pass to put the Bears ahead 45-38 with 1:50 remaining. Vanderbilt’s final drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-5 at its own 23-yard line.

Baylor gained 668 yards, while Vanderbilt finished with 573 yards. Here are five things we learned from Vanderbilt’s loss:

Vaughn had best bowl performance in Vanderbilt history

Former Pearl-Cohn standout Ke’Shawn Vaughn, an Illinois transfer, reeled off a record-breaking performance in his first Vanderbilt bowl game. He rushed for 243 yards, the second-most in Commodores’ history, along with two touchdowns on just 13 carries. Vaughn surpassed Ralph Webb’s Vanderbilt bowl record of 111 rushing yards from the 2016 Independence Bowl by the second quarter, breaking touchdown runs of 68 and 69 yards.

Vaughn, the SEC Newcomer of the Year, also finished his debut Vanderbilt season with 1,244 yards, the second-most in a single season in program history. Webb holds the record of 1,283 yards in 2016.

Baylor played its style better than Vanderbilt

Baylor was the tortoise, and Vanderbilt played the unfortunate part of the hare for much of the game. The Bears played its preferred pace and weathered the Commodores’ early big plays to take control of the game and the lead in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt exploded for three TDs of 65 yards or more in the first half. But Baylor, the Big 12 leader in time of possession, dominated the clock. The Bears converted 6-of-14 third downs and 5-of-5 fourth downs and led time of possession by more than 10 minutes.

Shurmur finishes as Vanderbilt’s all-time passer

Senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur eclipsed Jay Cutler to become Vanderbilt’s all-time passer. Shurmur already owned the Vanderbilt career record for touchdown passes. In his final game, he passed Cutler to break additional career passing records for completions, attempts and yards. He finished his career ranked in the top 20 in SEC history in passing yards.

Shurmur, the son of New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur, has enjoyed a consistently productive career. He passed for 503 yards and five TDs in five games as a freshman, 2,409 yards and nine TDs as a sophomore and 2,823 yards and a school-record 26 TDs as a junior. And Shurmur entered the Texas Bowl with a career-high 2,844 yards and 23 TDs this season. Kurt Page entered the night with Vanderbilt’s single-season passing record with 3,178 yards in 1983.

Miscues turned tide, slowed Vanderbilt rally

Guay made a 35-yard field goal to finish the first half, which would’ve yielded a 24-17 lead. But Dayo Odeyingbo was flagged for a holding penalty, which backed up the re-kick to 45 yards. Guay missed the second kick wide left, keeping Vanderbilt’s halftime lead at 21-17.

It’s hard to say if the Commodores lost momentum in that sequence. But when Baylor scored a quick TD to open the second half and go ahead 24-21, the missed field goal seemed to turn the tide.

And late in the third quarter, Jared Pinkney made a 32-yard catch, but he lost a fumble at the 2-yard line. It was only the 10th takeaway for Baylor, which entered the game with the second-fewest turnovers forced in FBS.

Vanderbilt hit paydirt quickly, fizzled, fought back

On the third play of the game, Khari Blasingame caught a short screen pass and sprinted 65 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. It came only 56 seconds into the game, the earliest score of the season for Vanderbilt, and it was Blasingame’s career-long catch.

It highlighted a longstanding issue for Baylor, which gave up a TD on its opponent’s opening for a drive for an eighth consecutive game. It was Vanderbilt’s fourth opening drive TD, but third in the past five games. After Vanderbilt hit a mid-game lull, Blasingame scored again to give the Commodores a 35-31 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Follow the Tennessean’s Adam Sparks on Twitter @AdamSparks.

 

 

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