HOUSTON – They say everything is bigger in Texas. But on a big stage on Thursday, Vanderbilt wasn’t able to close a big win.
The Commodores rallied from a second-half deficit but could not close in a shootout versus Baylor of the Big 12, falling to the Bears, 45-38, in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. With the loss, Vanderbilt ends its 2018 season 6-7.
Here’s how it went down:
WHAT HAPPENED: Vanderbilt found the scoreboard first on a 65-yard touchdown catch from Kyle Shurmur to Khari Blasingame. The Commodores and Bears traded scores the rest of the way before half, with the Dores taking a 21-17 lead into the break by virtue of a 69-yard scoring run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Baylor answered with consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter before Vanderbilt provided its own answer to cut Baylor’s lead to 35-31. After a Ryley Guay kick tied things up, 38-38, with 3:30 to go, the Bears scored a game-sealing touchdown with 1:40 remaining to clinch the win.
TURNING POINT: Baylor needed points when it took over on offense with 3:30 to play, tied 33-33 with Vanderbilt. The Bears got what they needed with a big play: quarterback Charlie Brewer connected with Marques Jones on a 52-yard scoring toss to push Baylor ahead, 45-38. On its final drive, Vanderbilt failed to connect on a fourth-and-five opportunity when Shurmur’s pass to tight end Jared Pinkney fell incomplete.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn
The redshirt junior Vaughn put up a career day for the Commodores, running for 243 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. His 243 yards set a new Texas Bowl record and also set a Vanderbilt program bowl record. Vaughn’s two touchdown runs came on 69 and 68 yards, and he notched a 66-yard run to the 1-yard line in the second half.
QB Kyle Shurmur
Shurmur became Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in pass attempts, completions and passing yards in the Texas Bowl. He finished 18-of-37 for 286 yards and one touchdown.
RB Khari Blasingame
The graduate student Blasingame authored three touchdowns on the night, twice on the ground and another on a 65-yard reception on the game’s opening drive.
GIVE ME THE NUMBERS
Yards of offense recorded by Baylor. The Bears racked up 668 yards, including 384 in the air and 284 on the ground, for an average of 8.2 yards per play. Moreover, Baylor controlled the clock with 35:26 time of possession. Bears’ quarterback Charlie Brewer finished 21-for-34 with 384 yards passing and added 109 yards rushing and three total scores.
Number of Baylor takeaways. The Bears entered the night with just nine takeaways on the year, next-to-last in FBS in that category. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, came in with 21 takeaways – its most since 2013 – but managed just one in a Randall Haynie interception. The Dores weren’t able to win the turnover battle on Thursday, which played a part in the loss.
Baylor’s conversion rate on fourth down. The Bears had no trouble sustaining drives, including a fourth-and-13 late in the third quarter that led to a touchdown. In all, Baylor finished 11-20 on third and fourth down.
WORTH NOTING: Vaughn set a Texas Bowl record for rushing highlighted by three gains of 65-plus yards, including touchdowns of 68 yards and 69 yards. His 243 yards rank second in Commodore single-game history and takes the top spot in bowl games.
WHAT’S NEXT: Vanderbilt finishes the 2018 season 6-7.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.