NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Vanderbilt's Mackenzi Adams threw for two touchdowns, ran for one more and set career-highs in several statistical categories. But critical mistakes by the Commodores prevented Vanderbilt from getting that elusive sixth win and becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982, as Kentucky defeated the Commodores 27-20 at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Adams completed 20 of 31 passes for 193 yards—all career highs—and converted three fourth downs on the game's final drive to lead VU to the Kentucky 15 for a potential tying score. But with the Commodores out of time outs, Adams took a sack on a second-and-1 play, forcing the Commodores to down the ball on third down.
Adams' pass to the end zone on the following play fell incomplete, leaving the Commodores' season stuck in neutral at 5-5 with two games to play.
Vanderbilt also cost itself dearly on special teams. Bryant Hahnfeldt missed two field goals and an extra point, Sean Walker fumbled on an ill-advised attempt to field a bouncing punt return, and the Commodores allowed UK's Keenan Burton to return a kickoff to the UK 49 late in the game, setting up the Wildcats' winning drive.
The 'Cats broke open a 13-all tie at half when Maurice Grinter scored on a 1-yard run on the half's first dirive. But Adams scored on a 7-yard run with 7:31 to play, and Hahnfeldt's extra point tied the score at 21.
Following Burton's return on the ensuing kickoff, UK's Andre' Woodson completed a pass to the VU 4 on a first-and 10 from the VU 40. Three plays later, Derrick Locke ran over from a yard to put UK back ahead.
Adams converted three fourth-down throws to lead VU deep into UK territory on the final drive, but Vandy couldn't convert.
Kentucky's Lones Seiber tied the game just before half, connecting on a career-long 48-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. The Commodores got a pair of first-half scoring passes from Adams—one to Walker and another to Jake Bradford—but VU's Hahnfeldt, who'd earlier missed a field goal, also missed an extra point on the second touchdown.
Vandy out-gained the potent Wildcat offense 432 yards to 351, and rushed for 239 yards on the day.
Vanderbilt faces Tennessee on the road next week, followed by a home contest against Wake Forest in Nashville to end the regular season. A win over either foe would guarantee VU's first .500 or better season in 25 years, thereby qualifying them for a bowl game invitation.