Dores Drop Road Test at Kentucky

Vandy freshman quarterback Mike Wright threw for a touchdown and ran for another

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A slow start out of the gates turned out to be critical in the race to victory for Vanderbilt on Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky, where the Commodores lost 38-35 to Kentucky at Kroger Field.

After falling behind 14-0, Vandy had outscored the Wildcats 21-17 at one point, but couldn’t come all the way back in pursuit of its first win of the season. Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez virtually iced the game with a 74-yard touchdown run with 9:14 to go in the contest, making it 38-21.

Quarterbacks Mike Wright and Ken Seals – both true freshmen – each had solid days for the Commodores (0-6, 0-6 SEC). Wright threw a 2-yard touchdown pass and ran for a 2-yard score. Seals finished 21 of 32 for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

Vandy running back Keyon Henry-Brooks totaled 121 yards on the ground over a career-high 29 carries. The sophomore has racked up 302 yards rushing on 72 attempts the past three games.

Running back Mitchell Pryor scored on a 2-yard run for the Dores with 3:13 to play and Seals found Cam Johnson on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left. It was too little, too late.

The Commodores, who were 11 of 17 on third down, return home at 11 a.m. Saturday to host No. 6 Florida.

Kentucky (3-4, 3-4 SEC) began the day by marching 75 yards in nine plays and went up 7-0 when Terry Wilson found Justin Rigg on a 15-yard touchdown pass. That series chewed up nearly five minutes of clock.

Wilson added a score with his feet when he rushed around right end for a 32-yard touchdown sprint putting the Wildcats ahead 14-0 with 3:48 to go in the opening stanza.

Vanderbilt regrouped to start the second quarter and got on board with a Seals 34-yard touchdown pass to Chris Pierce on a flag route into the right corner of the end zone. That play got the Commodores within 14-7.

The Wildcats didn’t waste time with a response, scoring on Wilson’s second touchdown pass of the day – this one coming from 21 yards out to Keaton Upshaw. Kentucky’s scoring drive covered 79 yards in just seven plays.

The Commodores kept coming back and got within seven with 3:40 left in the half. A 17-play drive that covered 78 yards ended with Wright rolling right on fourth down and dumping a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Bresnahan.

It was Wright’s first career touchdown pass.

Chance Moore kicked a 28-yard field for Kentucky before the end of the half, allowing the Wildcats to go into the locker room up 24-14.

Vanderbilt gave up 277 yards of offense over the first two quarters and allowed the Wildcats to average 8.9 yards per play.

Kentucky opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run from Rodriguez. Vandy responded with a 75-yard drive that was capped off by Wright’s 2-yard touchdown sprint on another fourth down call.

The Commodores trailed 31-21 with 2:53 to go in the third quarter and that would be how the scoreboard would read going into the final 15 minutes.

• Henry-Brooks’ 29 rushing attempts and 121 yards were career highs.

• Vandy’s 10 third-down conversions marked the first time since Nov. 11, 2017, against Kentucky that the Commodores totaled at least 10 conversions.

• Wright became the first Vanderbilt quarterback to rush for a touchdown since Kyle Shurmur did so Nov. 11, 2017, against Kentucky.

• Pierce is the first Vandy receiver to make a touchdown catch in three straight games since Kalija Lipscomb did so during the final game of 2017 and the first two contests is 2018.

• Vanderbilt dressed 58 scholarship players during Saturday’s contest.

• Kentucky now leads the all-time series 47-42-4 and has won five in a row against the Commodores.

• Vandy last won at Kentucky in 2012.

• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 12,000.

Dores Clash With Cats by Vanderbilt Athletics on Exposure