Bulovas at the Buzzer

Vandy downs UConn 30-28 with last-second field goal


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joseph Bulovas connected on a 31-yard field goal as time expired, and Vanderbilt broke a seven-game home losing streak by defeating Connecticut 30-28 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Bulovas’ kick capped a seven-play, 47-yard drive over the final 1:07 of the game after the Commodores (2-3) had seen a 27-16, fourth-quarter lead evaporate. But a personal foul on a kickoff return and a pass interference penalty on the Huskies helped Vandy slide down the field into position to win.

The winning kick snapped Vanderbilt’s slide of eight home defeats in a row and nine defeats in a row at Vanderbilt Stadium against FBS opponents.

Vandy (2-3, 0-1 SEC) now returns to conference action when it travels to play No. 10 Florida (3-2, 1-2 SEC) at 11 a.m. CT Saturday.

The Commodores will be looking to start a winning streak after those wild final three minutes against the Huskies (0-6).

Clinging to a 17-16 lead to start the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt got a 27-yard field goal from Bulovas for a 20-16 cushion.

On the ensuing possession, Gabe Jeudy-Lally picked up his first career interception on the Vanderbilt 33 yard line with 9:43 to play. That set up a rapid, four-play scoring drive that saw Ken Seals hit Will Sheppard on a 38-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-16.

Sheppard used a double move to streak free down the right seam, then he spun free from two defenders to waltz into the end zone. Vandy looked to be in great shape.

But Connecticut answered with an impressive drive that covered 79 yards in a little less than three minutes. Steven Krajewski, on the drive’s ninth play, hit Kevens Clercius with an eight-yard touchdown pass with 5:21 on the clock.

Their attempt at a  two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 27-22.

Connecticut forced a Vandy 3-and-out and then went 78 yards in less than two minutes to take a 28-27 lead on Krajewski’s 17-yard quarterback keeper straight up the gut. That left 1:07 on the clock for the Commodores.

Just enough time for Bulovas’ heroics.

Seals finished 27 of 40, passing for 333 yards and two touchdowns, while Sheppard caught eight balls for 119 yards and two scores.

Connecticut opened the scoring Saturday with the initial drive of the ballgame. A Joe McFadden 38-yard field goal capped a 10-play, 50-yard drive and gave the visitors a 3-0 lead.

McFadden added a 45-yard field goal at the 7:28 mark of the first quarter, putting UConn ahead 6-0.

Vandy finally dented the scoreboard four minutes later, thanks to a 39-yard field goal off the right foot of Bulovas. That completed a nine-play, 54-yard scoring drive for the Commodores.

A 26-yard touchdown pass from Seals to Sheppard – on the first play of the second quarter – gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the day. On 3rd and 8, Seals dropped back and hit Sheppard in stride down the right sideline for the score, making it 10-6.

McFadden’s third field goal of the night was of the 31-yard variety and made the score 10-9 with 10:28 left in the half.

Vanderbilt answered emphatically with a 13-play drive that ate more than six minutes off the clock and chewed up 77 yards. Rocko Griffin polished off the series with a 1-yard touchdown run untouched through the left side of the line, giving the Dores a 17-9 lead.

The Huskies got some momentum back going into halftime when, faced with a 4th-and-8 from the Vandy 40, Krajewski threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Marion.

That put the scoreboard at 17-16 in favor of Vanderbilt going into the locker room.

Vandy defense came up big twice in the third quarter with a third-down stop inside the 5 that led to a missed field goal and a fourth-down stop on its own 17 on the heels of a Seals interception. Those plays were a major reason Vandy took that 17-16 advantage into the final period.

• Sheppard’s touchdown reception in the second quarter was the first of his career.

• Griffin’s rushing touchdown in the second quarter was the first of his career.

Maxwell Worship recorded his first career interception (before fumbling the ensuing return) in the second quarter.

• Seals moved into a tie for the 10-most touchdown passes in a single Vandy career with 17. Jordan Rodgers is ninth with 24.

• Vandy last had two 100-yard receivers in a single game in 2016 against Tennessee.

• The Commodores last had a walk-off field goal in 1996 against Duke.

• Vanderbilt leads the all-time series against Connecticut 3-1.

• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 21,218.

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