Vanderbilt wins first SEC game since 2019 with stunning Kentucky No. 24
Vanderbilt scored the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds left to post a 24-21 upset against No. 24 Kentucky on Saturday and end a 26-game SEC losing streak.
Vanderbilt’s last conference win came on Oct. 19, 2019, a 21-14 victory over Missouri. The Commodores (4-6, 1-5 SEC) last won a conference game on the road in October 2018 against Arkansas.
Quarterback Mike Wright rushed for 59 yards for a first-quarter touchdown before completing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Will Sheppard for the win.
Wright was named the Commodores’ starting quarterback to open the season, but was benched after a 45-25 loss to Wake Forest on September 10. Freshman AJ Swann started the last six games but was ruled out against Kentucky with an injury.
“You’ve got a bunch of guys fighting,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “We’re building a program, and building a program is hard. It takes people who are aligned, doing the right things the right way. And that’s what these guys are doing. I’m glad they got rewarded today.”
Wright rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and threw for 184 yards and another score. Ray Davis added 126 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Commodores.
“There’s going to be a lot to clean up, but we like to learn from wins,” Lea said. “I’m proud of Mike. Mike had a tough year, personally a tough year. But he fought hard and stayed with his teammates and prepared every week. He made some big plays for us this season. He came out with a big run at the end to connect with Will Sheppard, and I think he did some really nice things to keep us in the game early.”
Kentucky (6-4, 3-4) appears to have survived Vanderbilt’s effort after running back Chris Rodriguez gave the Wildcats a lead twice, scoring 5 for a 15-14 advantage then going 72 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-17 with 5:03 remaining in the game.
Vanderbilt’s win looked stalled, but Octavious Oxendine’s personal foul wiped out a Tyrell Ajian interception. Given new life, Wright completed a 40-yard pass to Quincy Skinner Jr. at Kentucky 9 on fourth-and-11 to set the winning score.
“You give them credit,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “I went there. I know how hard they worked. It’s a good time for them. It’s hard for me to put my finger on [one] thing. Disappointed with how things turned out. I think everyone is. For some reason, I can’t do it with this team.”
This isn’t the first time Kentucky has been the team Vanderbilt has beaten to break a long losing streak. In 2003, the Commodores beat the Wildcats 28-17 at home on November 15 thanks to four Jay Cutler touchdown passes to end a 23-game losing streak.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.