Back Hot Read: Vandy Upends UGA

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Hot Read: Vandy Upends UGA

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Vanderbilt upsets Georgia 17-16 in Athens.

1. It was a clutch performance by Vanderbilt as the Commodores got their first road win of the Derek Mason era 17-16 over Georgia in Athens. In addition to a standout defensive effort that limited the Bulldogs to just one touchdown on the afternoon, Vanderbilt, trailing in the fourth quarter, showed great poise with a statement eight-play, 75-yard drive for the game-winning score. The Commodores showed impressive resiliency late, making key plays, like the decisive 4th-and-1 stop, down the stretch.

2. All-SEC linebacker Zach Cunningham made Vanderbilt's play of the year with the game on the line. He stopped Isaiah McKenzie on a 4th-and-1 run at at the Commodores' 41-yard line, sealing the victory with a remarkable open field tackle. Cunningham entered the weekend as the leading tackler in power five football and showed that ability on the big stage between the hedges. 

3. After Georgia extended its lead to six points in the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur responded with two huge throws on the corresponding drive. He found Kalija Lipscomb for 27 yards and later Ralph Webb for 37 yards on a crucial 3rd-and-12; the Commodores scored what-proved-to-be the game-winning touchdown on a Khari Blasingame run three plays later. There wasn't much offensive production overall, but Vanderbilt was effective in critical moments.    

4. The opening kickoff return by Darrius Sims was so important. His burst leading to the opening touchdown and giving the Commodores critical momentum early, Sims set the tone for the upset win and forced Georgia to play from behind right off the bat. One of the contest's most significant plays was the first one of the day.

5. It was a very disappointing loss for the Bulldogs, but kicker Rodrigo Blankenship converted 3-of-3 field goal tries, including a long of 45 yards. Given Georgia's struggles in the kicking game so far, that progress is a good sign. That said, the Bulldogs have to find a way to turn production into points more effectively. 

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports