NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt used to be called the worst team in the Southeastern Conference. Cellar dwellers. The private school that just didn’t belong in a power football league.
Vanderbilt won a bowl game for the first time in exactly 53 years, with Bryant Hahnfeldt kicking a 45-yard field goal with 3:26 left Wednesday for a 16-14 win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Vandy hadn’t even played in a bowl since 1982 — the SEC’s longest drought. The victory gave the Commodores (7-6) their first winning season since that season.
“I guess everybody can figure out we’re pretty happy,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “We’re thrilled to win the Music City Bowl right here in Nashville in our hometown. ... We kept our composure and made some big plays when we had to. It may not have been the prettiest victory in the whole world, but it is for us now.”
This is just the fourth time in the past 50 years that Vanderbilt has won seven games in a season. So maybe it was only appropriate that Hahnfeldt, a Nashville native who grew up only a few miles away from LP Field where this game was played, provided the winning margin.
“It’s fantastic for Nashville,” said Hahnfeldt, who tied his career-high with three field goals.
Boston College (9-5) had won eight straight bowl games, the nation’s longest active streak.
Playing in a bowl for the 10th straight season, the Eagles also missed a chance at finishing with at least 10 wins for a third straight season. BC lost despite giving up only 200 yards and allowing Vandy to convert only one of its 15 third downs.
“Congratulations to Bobby for the bowl win,” Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said.
The Eagles got the ball twice after Hahnfeldt’s third field goal. They had to punt the first time, then Myron Lewis picked off Dominique Davis with 1:36 left after having been beaten for the TD that put Boston College up 14-13.
“I felt like the game was over, and we won it,” Lewis said after his interception.
Vanderbilt had some of its stars of seasons past cheering from the sideline in Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and Chicago Bears teammates Chris Williams and Earl Bennett. PGA Tour golfer Brandt Snedeker also was on hand hoping for his alma mater’s first bowl win since beating Auburn 25-13 on Dec. 31, 1955, at the Gator Bowl.
They didn’t see much offense against a Boston College defense that came in ranked sixth in the nation in yards allowed and tops in the country in turnovers.
Vandy scored its lone touchdown when freshman Sean Richardson fell on a punt that bounced off the left knee of BC’s Paul Anderson with 10:35 left in the third.
Officials huddled, then ruled it a touchdown and a replay review upheld the decision.
“Paul tried getting out of the way there,” Jagodzinski said. “We need to have a call from the guy in the back end to get away from it when it bounces, and it hit him. That’s how close it is.”
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