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November 24, 2012Vanderbilt used a 21-point explosion in the second quarter and strong special teams in the second half to maul the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 55-21 in Winston Salem on Saturday.
The win was the sixth straight for the Commodores, its first such streak since 1955 and completed a 8-4 regular season, the first 8-win season for the program since 1982.
Vanderbilt amassed 432 yards of offense against the Deacs, led by quarterback Jordan Rodgers 229 passing yards on 17-of-23 completions. Junior receiver Jordan Matthews caught 10 of those 17 completions for 144 yards, including a backbreaking 64-yard touchdown with less to five minutes to go in the first half.
Matthews became the school's single-season leader in receiving yardage with his performance.
Commodore senior running back Zac Stacy ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, becoming the first back in school history to rush for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, as well as 3,000 career yards.
Backup running back Wesley Tate added a pair of touchdowns to start the game, including a 25-yard receiving touchdown on the game's opening drive.
Wake Forest tied the game at 7-7 on a controversial fourth down goal line play in the first quarter, but Tate capped off a 5-play, 45 yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to put the Dores ahead for good.
Vanderbilt extended the lead to 28-7 on its next two drives as Rodgers and Matthews hooked up for the big pass play following a Wake punt. Stacy found the end zone for the first time on the night with a 4-yard run following a Wake fumble.
The Commodores opened the second half scoring with a blocked punt by safety Andrew Williamson, that was recovered in the end zone by linebacker Casey Hughes for a score.
Wake Forest closed the gap to 35-14 with a 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Deandre Martin, but Vanderbilt answered with back-to-back scoring drives that ended with Carey Spear field goals of 52 and 50 yards.
Jonathan Krause continued the brilliant special teams play with a 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. A few minutes later, Stacy broke off a school-record 90 yard run for a touchdown to close out the Commodores scoring for the night.
The win marked the fourth road win for the Commodores during the 2012 season, its best performance as a program since 1948.
Vanderbilt will now await its invitation to a second straight postseason bowl. The selection is expected to take place by December 2nd.