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September 10, 2011

Big plays late lift Vandy over Connecticut

Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward returned a fourth-quarter interception 50 yards for a game-tying touchdown, and Carey Spear's 31-yard field goal with 2:56 put the Commodores ahead, as Vandy came from behind for a gritty 24-21 victory over Connecticut at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday night.

The Commodores led 14-3 at halftime, but watched the lead evaporate with a series of self-inflicted wounds.

After Connecticut intercepted Larry Smith deep in VU territory early in the third quarter, the Commodore defense forced a field goal.

But the Huskies blocked a third-quarter punt in the end zone and Byron Jones recovered it for a touchdown, and Yawin Smallwood returned Larry Smith's fumble 66 yards for a fourth-quarter score to put UConn up 21-14 after the Huskies added a 2-point conversion on a pass from Johnny McEntee pass to Ryan Griffin.

But Hayward picked McEntee on a third-down play along the right sideline at midfield, then headed left with a convoy of blockers, scoring with 6:45 left.

After VU held again, Zac Stacy's 48-yard run set up Spear's game-winning field goal, and the Commodore defense forced a turnover on downs to finish their second win.

It's the first time the Commodores have won two-straight games since the 2008 season.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage from VandySports.com.

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