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October 27, 2007NASHVILLE, Tenn.-On a day in which a loss might have meant death to Vanderbilt's bowl chances, the Commodores looked like a team just trying to survive against Miami of Ohio.
But unlike past years, the Commodores managed to successfully pull off the Houdini act in a 24-13, come-from-behind win over the Redhawks at Dudley Field on Saturday.
Vanderbilt survived four turnovers, a few costly penalties and some key injuries, moving the Commodores' record to 5-3 and keeping bowl hopes alive with a tough November slate ahead.
"Survival, overcoming obstacles or adversity is a good way to put it," said VU Coach Bobby Johnson. "Nobody had their head down."
The Commodores rushed for 290 yards, and held Miami to just 26 on the ground, as Vandy overcame a 13-10 second-half deficit. Vanderbilt overcame injuries to quarterbacks Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson, and turnovers on three consecutive offensive touches on the day.
Meanwhile, receiver Earl Bennett recorded eight catches for 85 yards, moving him seven catches ahead of Kentucky's Craig Yeast on the Southeastern Conference's all-time receptions list.
The Commodores jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the game's first drive on Jeff Jennings 1-yard touchdown run, capping an 11-play, 67-yard drive that took 5:36. Miami's Nathan Parseghian added a career-long 42-yard field goal to bring the Redhawks to within four later in the quarter.
From that point on, the Commodore offense self-destructed most of the second quarter. On three successive VU touches, Adams was picked off in the end zone after driving VU to the Miami 7, Jared Hawkins fumbled at the VU 46, and Thomas Welch fumbled a short kickoff at the Vandy 36.
However, the Redhawks managed to convert points on just one of those drives.
On a third-and-16 from the Vanderbilt 40, Jamal Rogers got behind Josh Allen, subbing for an injured Myron Lewis, and Daniel Raudabaugh threw a strike to give Miami a 10-7 lead.
Following Welch's fumble, the Redhawks got to the 14 on Raudenbaugh's pass to Chris Givens. But after tackles for loss by the Commodores' Theo Horrocks and Marcus Buggs and an incompletion, Parseghian missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
The Commodores followed by driving to the Miami 9, the key yardage coming on Adams' screen pass to Earl Bennett. But the drive stalled there, and Bryant Hahnfeldt drilled a 26-yard field goal just before half to knot the score.
Parseghian hit a 39-yard field goal to vault Miami ahead on the first drive of the second half. But on the ensuing drive, Nickson, subbing for an injured Adams, scored on a 2-yard run to put VU ahead, 17-13.
Nickson was hurt on the next drive, necessitating the use of No. 3 quarterback Richard Kovalcheck, who completed two of five passes for 13 yards. He was involved in a fumbled exchange with D.J. Moore on that drive for VU's fourth turnover.
Vandy thwarted the Redhawks on their other four drives the rest of the day, including a pair of three-and-outs. The Commodores added an insurance score on Cassen Jackson-Garrison's 15-yard run with 6:36 to play.
Jackson-Garrison led the team with 75 yards rushing, and Adams completed nine-of-14 passes for 108 yards and an interception.
The Commodores travel to SEC East rival Florida next week.