Vanderbilt stunned No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.
“I’m excited for these guys. I’m so proud of this team just in terms of how they stayed in the fight for what it was,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said. “We talked about the grind all week. We understood exactly where we were. Sometimes it’s just about drowning out the noise. These guys did just as good of a job as I could have asked for.
“We talked about being resilient. We talked about being relentless. I thought you saw relentless play tonight. I thought you guys straining to get off blocks. You saw guys straining late in the down. These guys played tough. When it got hard, they played tough. And then I thought for the most part they played smart. Truly smart.”
Hasan came into the year as the team’s No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart. The walk-on hadn’t played all season until Saturday.
But he started against Missouri in hopes of giving the Commodores (2-5, 1-3 SEC) a new spark and some new hope. The move worked.
Vandy played inspired and confident in all facets. Its defense put together its best 60 minutes of the season. Special teams was mistake-free.
Most importantly, the offense was calm and poised – save for one crucial mistake – throughout.
At the final horn the Dores stormed the field and Vaughn, who ran for 96 tough yards on 29 carries, sprinted to midfield before pulling off a backflip.
“I was just feeling it – the energy,” Vaughn said.
Vanderbilt found itself in a dogfight in the fourth quarter tied at 14-all. Neal had come in to spell Hasan and had orchestrated a drive to the Mizzou 21 as the clock ticked near nine minutes to play.
On 3rd-and-7, Neal threw to the right for redshirt-freshman Cam Johnson. Johnson made the catch and had a lot of green in from of him – he powered his way in from 21 yards out giving Vandy a 21-14 lead.
The Commodores would never trail again.
Cam Johnson’s touchdown reception today that turned out to be the game-winner pic.twitter.com/hAbpI8O8UC
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 19, 2019
“I just ran my route,” Johnson said of his touchdown catch. “The line held up and I had great pass protection. (Neal) threw a good ball and once I made the first guy miss – as a receiver we always talk about we’re not going to get inside the 5-yard line and not get our touchdown.
“Once I got to about the 3-yard line and I saw the guys coming it was just sort of a man-on-man battle and I tried to will myself in.”
While Neal was part of the late-game heroics, it was Hasan who begin the contest on center stage.
The Commodores received the opening kickoff and began the day at their own 25. Hasan handed the ball three straight times to Vaughn and Vandy opted to punt a yard short of a first down.
Vandy’s second offensive series served up a 3rd-and-10 which allowed Hasan to throw his first pass of the day – an eight-yard gain leading to another Commodores’ punt.
Hasan’s third drive? The Commodores got a little something going.
A 12-yard option keeper from the quarterback gave Vandy its initial first down, but the drive stalled at the 30. Hasan’s third-down pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
Still, there was a feeling something was different.
Missouri’s 50-yard field goal miss gave Vandy some newfound momentum and Hasan created the day’s biggest play on the next offensive snap. His deep throw down the left sideline found the arms of Kalija Lipscomb for a 34-yard gain.
Later in the drive, on 3rd-and-15, Hasan kept an option look again to his left side and scampered 21 yards down to the 1. A play later Vaughn powered into the end zone giving the Commodores the lead.
Mo Hasan’s second-quarter run that got Vandy into scoring position pic.twitter.com/eEVl5lCBga
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 19, 2019
Vanderbilt got the ball back with 2:20 left in the half and Hasan orchestrated another big-time play. A delayed screen pass to Vaughn in the left flat ended up going for 61 yards and a score to put the Dores up 14-7.
That’s how the scoreboard would look at the break.
“I knew on Sunday (Hasan would play),” Mason said. “Coming off that (UNLV loss Oct. 12), we needed something different. You continue to do what you’ve always done, you always have what you always got. It put a little pressure on (Neal), but at the end of the day, I knew (Hasan) was going to be the dude. That’s what we went with it and it worked.”
Halfway through the third quarter another huge momentum swing took place when Vandy cornerback Allan George intercepted a Missouri pass in the back left corner of the end zone keeping the score 14-7.
A few minutes later, with 2:48 left in the third quarter, Hasan took a helmet-to-helmet shot to the head on a five-yard keeper. He left the game and wouldn’t return.
Neal took over at QB from there and his first pass of the night was intercepted by Cameron Watkins who returned it all the way down to the 6. Larry Rountree ran it in over left end from there to tie the game.
“I told (Neal) he’s going to get other opportunities, just take care of the ball. With the team, go get a stop,” Mason said. “That’s all you can do. Let’s not make this thing harder than what it is. We go out there, they score, ‘OK, let’s line up. Game’s tied. It’s still a good ballgame.’ ”
Fortunately for the Commodores the game remained 14-all until nearly half of the final period had been played. That’s when Vandy rose to the occasion.
Hasan finished with 34 yards rushing and was 7 of 11 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown – the first of his Vanderbilt career.
The Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
“(Hasan) really provided that spark this week. So that’s where we sit,” Mason said. “That’s what transpired and the end result is a Commodore win.”
Vanderbilt travels to South Carolina on Nov. 2 after an off week.
• Hasan’s second-quarter touchdown pass was Vanderbilt’s first since Sept. 28 against Northern Illinois.
• Vaughn’s rushing touchdown Saturday was the 18th of his Vanderbilt career. That tied him with Cassen Jackson-Garrison for fourth in program history and put him one behind Jerry Seymour (19) for third.
• Vanderbilt and Missouri met for the 13th time in a series dating back to 1895 (the last seven contests have come since 2012). The Tigers are now 7-4-1 against the Commodores and had won three straight.
• Vandy is 30-40-3 in its 73 homecoming games.
• With the win Saturday, Mason (26) moved past George MacIntyre for the fifth-most coaching wins in Vandy history. Bobby Johnson and Ray Morrison are fourth with 29 each.
• Former Vanderbilt athletic stars Dansby Swanson, Casey Hayward and Festus Ezelis watched the Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.
• Attendance on Saturday as announced as 23,900.