Rapid Reaction: Vanderbilt defense leads shocking upset of Missouri
Call it a sleepy effort by Missouri, or an inspired game by Vanderbilt, but there was some eyebrows raised about the events in the West End of Nashville on Saturday evening.
A surprising start at quarterback fueled a shocking upset as Vanderbilt beat No. 22 Missouri 21-14. It handed Missouri its first SEC loss of the season, and Vanderbilt’s second win overall.
The Vanderbilt defense in the first half produced 2 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss and 6 quarterback hurries. Perhaps the Commodores were fueled by a surprising change at quarterback. It was a sign of things to come.
In a season of disappointments offensively, Vanderbilt turned to its latest tweak to jump-start the struggling offense. Vanderbilt started Mo Hasan over Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace. It was Hasan’s first start as a Division I quarterback.
The Vanderbilt defense bottled up a Missouri offense that was rolling. The Tigers had a streak of 11 games that they’ve scored at least 31 points, dating back to last season. Missouri had a 6-game SEC winning streak entering the game, and had won 3 straight over Vanderbilt.
By midway through the fourth quarter, Missouri was 3-for-15 on third down conversions. The Tigers also missed 2 field goal attempts. With less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, Missouri had 11 penalties for 115 yards.
Hasan suffered a brutal hit against Tyree Gillespie, who was called for targeting as Hasan slid on a play with 2:48 left in the third quarter. Gillespie was ejected from the game. But when Neal relieved Hasan, he threw an interception on the second play. Cam Wilkins picked off the pass and nearly scored. But on the short drive, Larry Rountree scored from 6 yards out.
Vanderbilt then took the lead 3 possessions later as Neal found Cam Johnson for a 21-yard touchdown with 8:57 remaining.
To start the second half, it appeared as if Missouri’s offense would lean on the running ability of QB Kelly Bryant. Bryant had 5 carries for 44 yards on that drive, but it ended with an interception in the end zone even after a missed field attempt was wiped out by a penalty on Vanderbilt for roughing the kicker.
On Vanderbilt’s scoring drive early in the second quarter, Hasan had two big plays, a 34-yard pass and 21-yard keeper before Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 1-yard touchdown with 12:00 left in the first half.
Missouri responded and scored on the ensuing drive highlighted by a 55-yard catch by Kam Scott. QB Kelly Bryant connected with TE Albert Okwuegbunam on a 4-yard touchdown that was a fade pass in the back corner of the end zone.
Okwuegbunam was injured with 7:56 left in the first half when S Tae Daley capsized him on a high pass over the middle. It appeared his left knee absorbed a blow.
Missouri’s defense held strong with 5 tackles for a loss by early in the second quarter, however it was Missouri’s first scoreless first quarter of the season, and the first scoreless first quarter since last year’s Kentucky game.
Things didn’t look good early when Missouri gave up a sack that pushed the Tigers on the edge of field goal range, but Tucker McCann’s 50-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter sailed wide left.