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January 4, 2014

Vanderbilt outlasts Houston to win Compass Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- It was an epic collapse, but Vanderbilt lived to tell about it.

The Commodores survived a disastrous third quarter, but got fourth-quarter scoring runs from Brian Kimbrow and Jerron Seymour, plus a Carey Spear field goal, walking away from the BBVA Compass Bowl a 41-24 victor on Saturday afternoon.

It's Vandy's second-straight 9-4 season, and the Commodores will await the revealing of the final Top 25 polls next week to see if they're also ranked for a second-straight year.

VU dominated the Cougars in the first half, getting two 50-yard Patton Robinette-to-Jordan Matthews touchdown strikes to build a 24-0 lead at the break.

It was perhaps worse than the score indicated, as the Commodores had a 220-18 yardage edge at half.

But John O'Korn threw third-quarter TD strikes to Marketih Ambles and Deontay Greenberry, Kenneth Farrow had a scoring run and Richie Leone added a field goal to tie the game.

Brian Kimbrow's 21-yard scoring run, followed by Carey Spear's extra point, put the Commodores back up 31-24 with 9:28 to play.

The Commodore defense held, and the mostly-partisan VU crowd of 42,717 breathed a sigh of relief once it was over.

Vanderbilt scored first on its second possession of the game, as Matthews took a screen pass from Robinette, got a great downfield block from Jonathan Krause, and took it 50 yards untouched down the left sideline for a score. Spear's extra point put Vandy up, 7-0.

After VU recovered a first-quarter fumble at the UH 16, Robinette's 8-yard TD run and the ensuing PAT put the Commodores up, 14-0, with 1:33 left.

After Matthews' 39-yard catch put Vandy inside the Houston 10, Spear added a 24-yard field goal with 10:26 left in the second quarter.

With 7:09 left in the first half, Robinette hit a wide-open Matthews down the middle of the field for a 50-yard score.

After Robinette fumbled at the Vandy 6 early in the second half, Houston's Farrow rushed for a score on the next play and Richie Leone's extra-point cut the lead to 24-7.

On its next drive, O'Korn hit Ambles with a score in the back of the end zone, and the Cougars trailed just 24-10.

A 58-yard throw to Ambles got UH deep in Vandy territory again, where the defense stiffened and Leone hit a 30-yard field goal to pull within seven.

Next, O'Korn hit a wide-open Greenberry with a 67-yard toss on the next drive, and the game was tied with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.

But VU drove deep into UH territory early to set up Kimbrow's score, and Jahmel McIntosh's pick of O'Korn and subsequent return to the Cougar 17 set up another field goal. An Andre Hal pick and return to the Houston 2 set up Seymour's 1-yard run with 1:42 left.

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