LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)Mike Wright ran 59 yards for a touchdown and completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Will Sheppard with 32 seconds left for a 24-21 win over Kentucky Saturday, snapping a 26-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.
Wright was named the Commodores’ starting quarterback to start the season but was benched following a 45-25 loss to Wake Forest September 10, Freshman AJ Swann started the last six games but was ruled out against Kentucky due to an injury.
Kentucky (6-4, 3-4) appeared to have survived the Vandy effort after Chris Rodriguez twice gave the Wildcats a lead, scoring from the 5 for a 15-14 lead, then racing 72 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-17 with 5:03 left in the game.
Vandy’s game-winning drive appeared 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. to the Kentucky 9 on fourth-and-11 to set up the winning score.
Wright was 12 of 23 passing for 184 yards with an interception, and ran for 126 yards. Ray Davis added 129 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Commodores (4-6, 1-5).
Vanderbilt’s last conference win was Oct. 19, 2019 over Missouri 21-14.
The Commodores defense, which had given up a conference-worst 36.8 points per game, was stellar. The defense had four sacks and six tackles for loss to go with an interception on the final play of the game. CJ Taylor led the defense with six tackles, a sack and the interception.
The Wildcats’ inability to get touchdowns in the red zone in the first half led to the 7-6 halftime deficit. Twice Kentucky drove inside Vandy’s 20 and another time inside the 30 to come away with just two field goals of 47 and 27 yards and blocked field goal from 37 yards. The second field goal completed a 66-yard, 15-play drive that stalled at the Vanderbilt 9.
Vanderbilt closes out the season with two home games, starting with Florida.
Kentucky continues its three-game home stand to end the season, hosting No. 1 Georgia.