ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Vanderbilt celebrated wildly, cheered on by
sprinkling of gold-and-black-clad fans amid the sea of red. Georgia
and its 92,000 backers trudged out of Sanford Stadium in stunned
silence. The scoreboard went blank as soon as it was over, a feeble
attempt to erase what everyone had just seen.
A stunner between the hedges.
Bryant Hahnfeldt kicked a 33-yard field goal with 2 seconds
remaining Saturday to give Vanderbilt a 24-22 upset of the
16th-ranked Bulldogs, who lost to an unranked team for the first
time since 2002.
The Commodores (3-4, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) had not beaten
Georgia since 1994, and this was only their fourth win in the
series in the last 43 meetings. In all likelihood, it ended any
hopes the Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2) had of winning their third SEC title
in five years.
"We're not mathematically out of it because there's so many
games remaining," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "But I'm not
going to make it my main point to get back to the SEC championship
game. I'm going to talk about to be getting back to playing winning
football. That's what I'm going to stress the most."
It seemed the Bulldogs would manage a lackluster victory when
Tony Taylor returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown with
just under 9½ minutes remaining for a 22-21 lead.
"We were hoping that would be the spark we needed to finish off
Vandy," Taylor said. "But they finished it off better than we
Georgia failed on a 2-point conversion, and Andy Bailey missed a
37-yard field goal with about 5 minutes left that would have forced
Vanderbilt to go for a touchdown on its final possession.
As it was, the Commodores only needed a field goal. Chris
Nickson, who threw a pair of crucial interceptions in the second
half, methodically drove them down the field on a 15-play, 65-yard
Vanderbilt passed up a 52-yard field goal attempt, converting on
fourth-and-5 when Nickson hooked up with Sean Walker for a 6-yard
gain. Cassen Jackson-Garrison ran for another first down inside the
The Commodores set up the ball in the middle of the field for
Hahnfeldt, who was just 4-of-8 on the season and had missed two the
previous week in a 17-10 loss to Mississippi. This time, his kick
was right down the middle. Hahnfeldt charged toward the sideline
with his right fist in the air and was mobbed by his teammates.
"It was unbelievable," Hahnfeldt said. "I just start running
The Bulldogs tried a couple of laterals on the ensuing kickoff,
but the ball was knocked out of bounds short of midfield to end the
Vanderbilt, which hasn't had a winning season since 1982, lost
its first three SEC games by a combined 12 points.
"We feel like we are better," coach Bobby Johnson said. "But
when you don't get it done, you begin to question yourself. That is
Georgia is the team questioning itself now. The Bulldogs lost
their second in a row, having squandered a 17-point lead the
previous week in a 51-33 setback to Tennessee.
This one followed a similar theme. Georgia went up 10-0 in the
first half on Bailey's 23-yard field goal and Joe Tereshinski's
23-yard scoring pass to Martrez Milner, but couldn't hold the lead.
Bailey added another field goal, this one from 20 yards out, on
the final play of the first half to give Georgia a tenuous 13-7
lead going to locker room.
Just as they did against Tennessee, the Bulldogs started the
third quarter with a turnover. Kregg Lumpkin fumbled on the second
play of the half, D.J. Moore recovered at the Georgia 25 and
Jackson-Garrison punched it over from the 3 to put Vanderbilt ahead
for the first time.
The Commodores missed a chance to extend the lead when Nickson
was picked off in the end zone by Tra Battle, but that was merely a
reprieve for the Bulldogs. Georgia went three-and-out, Vanderbilt
got the ball back and quickly drove for another TD.
Nickson scrambled for a 24-yard gain, then went to Walker on a
35-yard touchdown down the right sideline.
Nickson was 15-of-29 for 190 yards and led the Commodores in
rushing with 59 yards. Georgia had 373 yards but failed to score a
touchdown on four trips inside the Vanderbilt 20, settling for
three short field goals by Bailey.
The Bulldogs used two quarterbacks. Tereshinski started and was
11-of-17 for 151 yards. Freshman Matthew Stafford was in at the end
of the game, going 9-of-13 for 86 yards. No matter who was in the
game, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on their scoring chances.
"If we could have put some touchdowns on the board instead of
trying for field goals, I'm confident we would have won," running
back Danny Ware said. "I don't blame anybody. We lost this one as
Georgia may have suffered a key injury, as well. Starting
tailback Thomas Brown hurt a knee returning the second-half
"He won't be playing anytime soon," Richt said. "He hurt it
pretty bad, I think."
Nike Men's Georgia Bulldogs Sideline Legend Black T-ShirtShop
NCAA's Division I Council implemented a rule that all bowl-eligible teams with 6-6 records must be chosen for a bowl game before any teams with a 5-7 mark can be considered.
Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who wants to implement a more aggressive defense, is one of several new Coastal assistants with work ahead.
Which Big 12 defenses are best at buckling down in red zone? There's little surprise that TCU is No. 1, but the conference's order might be a surprise.
New coach Chris Ash is mixing things up at Rutgers with "Competition Wednesdays." And no one -- Ash included -- is exempt from competing.
Lovie Smith will have a huge opportunity to make an early statement about the direction of his program when Illinois faces North Carolina.
Mississippi State's early matchup with South Carolina should give a hint of what's to come as the Bulldogs try to extend their bowl streak.