STARKVILLE, Miss. — Vanderbilt cut a 17-0 deficit down to 17-14 in the second half Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium, but five turnovers ultimately led to the Commodores’ demise in a 24-17 loss to Mississippi State.
Down 17-14 late, Vandy appeared intent on driving for a chance at a game-tying or game-winning score, but quarterback Ken Seals threw his third interception of the day with 8:02 to play. The Dores still got the back with 6:11 to go, only to see Seals lose a fumble at his own 13 with 4:18 to play.
Jo’Quavious Marks punched in a 1-yard touchdown run shortly thereafter to ice the game for the Bulldogs.
Pierson Cooke was able to hit a 41-yard field goal with 38 ticks remaining making it a touchdown game. The Bulldogs (2-4, 2-4 SEC) recovered the ensuing onside kickoff to clinch victory.
Running back Keyon Henry-Brooks finished with 115 yards on 20 carries and caught 11 passes for 97 yards. His 27-yard touchdown run got the Commodores within three late in the game.
Seals threw for a career-high 336 yards on 31 of 46 passing and a touchdown. The freshman also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
Vanderbilt (0-5, 0-5 SEC) next heads to Kentucky (2-4, 2-4) at 11 a.m. CT Saturday.
After Vanderbilt’s opening offensive series ended with an interception on the fourth play, Mississippi State needed just five plays to go 27 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers found Osirus Mitchell on a 6-yard pass a little more than three minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs then upped their lead to 14-0 with an 11-play drive that covered 68 yards and chewed up 5:05 of clock. Dillon Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown run polished the series off and came on the heals of Cooke’s missed 50-yard field goal for Vandy.
Mississippi State’s Brandon Ruiz added a 25-yard field goal later in the second quarter and that would turn out to be the final score of the half.
Vanderbilt had 156 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, but turned the ball over twice, missed a field goal and failed on one of two fourth-down conversions.
The Commodores finally put a dent into the lead toward the end of the third quarter thanks to an eight-play, 71-yard drive that ended in seven points. Seals found Pierce from the 2 to make the score 17-7 with 4:27 to go in the period.
Suddenly Vandy had life and road the legs of Henry-Brooks from there. The sophomore capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive with a 27-yard sprint to the end zone making it 17-14 with 12:27 to go.
That would set up the final, pivotal minutes of the contest before Vanderbilt ran out of time.
• Vanderbilt dressed 58 scholarship players during Saturday’s contest.
• Seals recorded the first back-to-back 300-yard passing games by a Vanderbilt quarterback since Kyle Shurmur did so Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 in 2017.
• Seals becomes just the third freshman quarterback in school history to surpass 1,000 passing yards in a season, and first since Jay Cutler in 2002.
• Cooke’s 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was a career long.
• Henry-Brooks becomes the first running back to surpass the 100-yard mark since Ke’Shawn Vaughn (140) on Oct. 12, 2019, against UNLV.
• Safety Brendon Harris had a career-high 10 tackles in the matchup.
• Defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo now has 28.0 career tackles for loss, 0.5 behind James Manley and Jamie Duncan for the eighth most in program history.
• The Bulldogs finished with -22 yards rushing, the fewest rushing yards allowed by Vanderbilt in program history.
• Mississippi State now leads the all-time series 14-7-2 and is 8-1 in games played in Starkville.
• Vandy last won at Mississippi State in 1971.